Memorial Service for Liu Xiaobo in Berlin, Gethsemane church, one year after his passing.
I wasn’t sure if I should post this or not. Maybe Ian Johnson would do it, or someone else more involved with the event. Anyway, seems it’s going to be a grand thing. A reminder there are some things politics and the arts both can and should try to stand for. In Berlin, in Germany, in Europe, anywhere. Solidarity, for once.
In 2010 I translated Bei Ling’s biography of Liu Xiaobo into German. It was a rush job, but I checked the facts. It’s an interesting book.
I am mostly interested in poetry. Liu Xiaobo has written poignant poems, he and his wife Liu Xia used to write each other poems from and into prison. Liu Xia still writes, when she is not too harrassed. She has great stuff. There is a video from 2013, also in the SCMP article posted recently.
Last summer, after Liu Xiaobo’s death, I posted my translations of Yi Sha’s poems on Liu Xiaobo. There are more, mostly small asides, hidden in Yi Sha’s vast output. But these are the main ones, posted by Yi Sha on Sina Weibo and on WeChat last July.
I remember hearing a Chinese military attache in Europe saying to me out of the blue he thought it was foolish to imprison Liu Xiaobo and make such a big deal out of it, an international embarrassment. I was very surprised. When he was in college, said the general, his job as class monitor involved inviting Prof. Liu for a speech. Many people in all walks of life seem to remember Liu Xiaobo. Especially writers, of course. Migrant worker writers, hospital worker writers. Yes, really, I’ve seen poems and statements. Translated some poems.
Liu Xiaobo was and is a very ambigous and controversial figure. When I heard his voice from the 1980s on tape for the first time I was shocked. Very loud and violent, very hard to understand. Yi Sha’s poems are the strongest personal commentary on Liu Xiaobo I have ever read.
I won’t be there in Berlin. Previous engagement with a small family holiday :). But if you can, go. And anyway, as they say in the announcement, please protest, or sing. Or pray.
Martin Winter <email@example.com>