PEN International © 2017
Terms & Conditions | Privacy Statement

Freedom for Liu Xiaobo: one poem, fifteen languages, more than one hundred readings in forty countries

Tuesday 20 March 2012 - 2:42pm

In Araraquara, Brazil, in Sarajevo and Durban, South Africa; in Nicosia, Helsinki and Baden-Baden, in Ubud, Bali, Accra, Lagos and Lahore; in Rostow-am-Rostow, Russia, Tel Aviv and Wellington, New more one hundred places around the world today, a poem by Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo is being read.

The poem, "You Wait for Me with Dust" was written by Liu for his wife, Liu Xia, in 1999, while he was serving his first prison sentence. He is currently in the third year of an eleven-year sentence, which he is serving far from Beijing, where his wife, Liu Xia, has been under virtual house arrest, with no charges, since it was announced in October, 2010, that Liu had been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

The poem has been translated into fifteen languages for this reading today. Many readers will wear a mask while they read, a likeness of Liu designed by artist Christine Haberstock.

The reading was organized by the International Literature Festival of Berlin. The organizers note in their newsletter.

On 20 March 2012, Liu Xiaobo will have been detained for 1198 days. He will remain in imprisoned for a further 3018 days unless the Chinese authorities relent.

I went into the offices of PEN Canada in Toronto to read the poem. Jiang Weiping, writer in exile from China, who also served a prison term in China, came in as well, to read the poem in Chinese. To hear those readings click here.

PEN community is honoured to take part in this act of literary solidarity with our colleagues, Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

by Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair, Writers in Prison Committee