Poetry News

NYRB Publishes Last Text by Liu Xiaobo

By Harriet Staff
Liu Xiaobo

The New York Review of Books has published the last text written by poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, a devoted preface for a forthcoming photography collection by his wife, Liu Xia. "Although barely able to write, he managed to scribble this love note. Since expressions of love, except for the Communist Party or Chairman Mao, were virtually banned as 'bourgeois' when Xiaobo and Xia were growing up, it seems especially poignant that his final words should take this form," write the editors at NYRB. An excerpt:

You must have read that short poem of mine about the stubborn little shrimp (my wife)—she boiled gruel for me while she waited for praise…the words flew off the page into the gruel. It took three hundred seconds to write that most earth-shattering, praise-filled poem.

Dim desk lamp…plain and cramped room…already peeling tea table…and the stubborn imperative of the little shrimp—a melding like the stunned first contact of a star with a rock, merging as seamlessly as heavenly clothes.

From this point on, praise became the karma of my life, or the hibernating instinct of a polar bear enjoying the boundless white snows.

Read more at NYRB.

Originally Published: September 20th, 2017