June Fourth Elegies: Book summary and reviews of June Fourth Elegies by Liu Xiaobo

June Fourth Elegies

Poems

by Liu Xiaobo

June Fourth Elegies by Liu Xiaobo
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2012
    208 pages
    Genre: Poetry

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Book Summary

The first publication of the poetry of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, with a Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Liu Xiaobo has become the foremost symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. He was a leading activist during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 4, 1989, and a prime supporter of Charter 08, the manifesto of fundamental human rights published in 2008. In 2009, Liu was imprisoned for "inciting subversion of state power," and he is currently serving an eleven-year sentence. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for "his prolonged non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Liu dedicated his Peace Prize to "the lost souls from the Fourth of June."

June Fourth Elegies presents Liu's poems written across twenty years in memory of fellow protestors at Tiananmen Square, as well as poems addressed to his wife, Liu Xia. In this bilingual volume, Liu's poetry is for the first time published freely in both English translation and in the Chinese original.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but could not visit Sweden to collect it: he was then, and remains, in prison in China for the human rights activism that began with his part in the demonstrations of 1989 at Tiananmen Square and continued, in and out of jails and labor camps, for the next 20 years." - Publishers Weekly

"The urgency and truly risky candor of these poems outweigh their occasional repetition and flat diction. They remind us that poetry remains a dangerous practice in some parts of the world, and that although poets may be silenced, their poems will still be heard..." - Library Journal

"One cannot talk about these poems strictly in terms of poetry. They are a monument of rage against the murderous powers of injustice, one man's relentless counter-argument to the logic of totalitarian oppression - twenty years of defiance in the form of elegies to the fallen, the 'departed souls' of Tiananmen Square. The imprisoned Liu Xiaobo is surely one of the world's most ardent defenders of human freedom, of the right of every person to live in an open society governed by laws, not guns." - Paul Auster

"It's the nature of language to pitch itself against the smothering oneness of the state. Words want to be free. Liu Xiaobo's crime is called 'an incitement to subvert state power.' This is an administrative term for the exercise of free speech - the very activity, Liu writes, that is the mother of truth... We try to imagine the nightmarish reality of the closed trial, the confiscated life. We feel the force of Liu Xiaobo's efforts to transcend what he calls 'a paralysis of spirit.' And we see his face in his words." - Don DeLillo

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More Information

Liu Xiaobo is a political activist and writer. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jeffrey Yang is the author of two poetry collections and an editor at New Directions Publishing.

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