(Translated into English byTienchi M.-Liao)
Thanks to the American PEN for awarding Liu Xiaobo to the Freedom of expression prize
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pity that both my husband Liu Xiaobo and I could not be present this evening to receive this award.
Twenty six years ago, both of us were writing modern poetry. It is through our poetry that we became acquainted and eventually fell in love. Six years later, the unprecedented student democratic movement and massacre occurred in Beijing. Xiaobo dutifully stood his ground, and, consequently, became widely known as one of the so-called June 4th "black hands." His life then changed forever. He has been put into jail several times, and even when he is at home, he is still, for the most part, not a free man. As his wife, I have no other choice but to become a part of his unfortunate life.
Yet, I am not a vassal of Liu Xiaobo. I am very fond of poetry and painting, but at the same time, I have not come to view Xiaobo as a political figure. In my eyes, he has always been and will always be an awkard and diligent poet. Even in prison, he has continued to write his poems. When the warden took away his paper and pen, he simply pulled his verse out of thin air. Over the past twenty years, Xiaobo and I have accumulated hundreds of such poems, which were born of the conversations between our souls. I would like to quote one here:
Before you enter the grave
Don’t forget to write me with your ashes
Do not forget to leave your address in the nether world
Another Chinese poet, Liao Yiwu, has commented on Xiaobo’s poem: “He carries the burden of those who died on June 4th in his love, in his hatred and in his prayers. Such poems could have been written in the Nazi’s concentration camps or by the Decembrist during the exile in Imperial Russia. I also want to quote the famous sentence: ‘It is barbaric to write poetry after Ausschwitz’”. Such statements are also characteristic of the situation in China after 1989.
I understand, however, this award is not meant to encourage Liu Xiaobo, the poet, but rather to encourage Liu Xiaobo, the political commentator and initiator of Charter 08. I would like to remind everyone of the close connection between these two identities. I feel that Xiaobo is using his intensity and passion as a poet to push the democracy movement forward in China. He shouts passionately as a poet “no, no, no” to the dictators.
In private, he whispers gently to the dead souls of June 4th, who, to this day, have not received justice, as well as to me and to all his dear friends: “yes, yes.”
Finally, I extend my deepest gratitude to the PEN American Center, the Independent Chinese PEN and everyone in attendance at this event tonight.
Liu Xia, April 17th, 2009 at my not free home in Beijing
(博讯记者：蔡楚) (博讯 boxun.com)