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June Fourth Elegies: Poems (Lannan…

June Fourth Elegies: Poems (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf…

by Liu Xiaobo

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Very depressing. Interesting poetry. But very depressing. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 4, 2015 |
Very depressing. Interesting poetry. But very depressing. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
Very depressing. Interesting poetry. But very depressing. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
Very depressing. Interesting poetry. But very depressing. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
Who is Liu Xiaobo? He is a writer, literary critic, professor, human rights activist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." He is also the author of the 25 poems contained in the recently published June Fourth Elegies. As Jeffrey Yang, the translator for the book writes in his Afterword, June Fourth (what we in the US often call the Tiananmen Square massacre) “became the transformative fire in Liu’s life that politicized him as a nonviolent activist around issues of free speech and human rights.” Liu returned to China from a visiting scholar position at Columbia University in the spring of 1989 to assist with the movement. He participated in the demonstrations, held a hunger strike and on the morning of June 4th, in order to avoid bloodshed, he asked the students to leave the square.

He survived June 4th, and on June 6th he was imprisoned. Since then in the spring of every year, he has written a poem to honor those who lost their lives. These annual remembrances are the first 20 poems included in June Fourth Elegies. The final five poems are ones that Liu wrote to his wife Liu Xia during his incarcerations.

The poems are poignant, vivid and stark in their descriptions. I am not a good judge of poetry so I turn instead to Liu’s wife, Liu Xia who describes her husband as an “awkward and diligent poet.” Jeffrey Yang agrees adding that this is “an honest observation of Liu Xiaobo’s poetry.” Later, Yang says that Liu “prefers a bold, in-your-face directness in his poetry, and veers away from abstractions and elusiveness.” I agree with his assessment. I am glad to have picked up this book. I admire Liu’s persistence in writing one every year to honor those who died for their ideals or just happened to be caught in the chaos. Liu will not allow others to forget them nor will he stop trying to seek justice for the dead and their families. ( )
  xuesheng | Jul 21, 2012 |
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This book is dedicated to the Tiananmen Mothers and for those who can remember.
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Poems written across twenty years in memory of fellow protestors at Tiananmen Square, as well as poems addressed to his wife, Liu Xia.

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