Posts Tagged ‘censorship’


九月 3, 2018

Ai Hao

things I can write
make it grow out
things I can’t write
make it grow underground

Translated by MW, Sept. 2018


Ai Hao

durch die sachen die ich schreiben kann
wächst es im licht
durch die die ich nicht schreiben kann
wächst es im untergrund

Übersetzt von MW im September 2018



300 POEMS, ALL HAVE NO EVIL – 沈浩波 Shen Haobo

一月 11, 2017


Shen Haobo

Whatever Plato wanted to banish from his Republic
is exactly what Confucius culled from his Book of Songs.
When I suddenly thought of this point
I felt the hairs stand up on my neck.
“The Master didn’t speak of ghosts and demons.”
All those strange beings, mysterious bodies, brave and resilient beauties
culled clean from the books?
If it was really like that
then he must be my enemy, goddamn bastard executioner!

Tr. MW, Jan. 2017


2·2 子曰:“诗三百,一言以蔽之,曰:“思无邪。”



九月 20, 2014

GREAT BRITAIN“The United Kingdom is here to stay. Actually, no matter what the outcome would have been, the vote in Scotland has shown to the people of another certain country that in such a crisis, England does not evoke a “anti-split-up-law”. There are no armored vehicles on Scottish street corners, Scottish leaders have not been branded as betraying and selling out the great English nation, and not one citizen has been thrown in jail for fomenting trouble and encouraging independence. Just for these few points, Great Britain, the sun has not set on your empire!” (A Weibo user in China

”联合王国保住了。其实无论结果如何,苏格兰公投都让世界上另一国家的人民看到,在如此危机下,英格兰没有制定《反分裂法》,没有将装甲车开上格拉斯哥街 头,没有将苏格兰首席大臣萨蒙德打成英奸卖国贼,更没有以寻衅滋事罪将鼓吹独立的任何一个公民投入监狱。仅凭这些,大不列颠,你仍然是日不落帝国!“


七月 13, 2014

Yan li grief has to grow up

Yan Li



you leave it, it drags on for how many years

deaths from that time, they have grown up too

obituaries are old enough to have kids

part of me I left in that year also grew

although it became a website that’s blocked

but I have learned to scale the great firewall

and leaf through injustice buried in history


outbursts of wailing have never stopped

on top of the wails there are always new wreaths

all are inadequate for my suspicions about reality:

why can dark and light of the world

toast each other under the neon lamps

why is it every time I take a walk on the street

I always see people whose names are forgotten

reciting the future there on the square


February 2014


Tr. MW, July 2014


五月 22, 2014

bronze statue

Hung Hung

all those bronze statues
are busy at night
patrolling the streets
lest people get drunk and say the wrong thing or kiss in the alleys
or play mahjong at home
statues will check at the newspaper press
is there a piece on the chief like last year?
is there a space for respect at the top?
has someone scribbled in the blank spot?

bronze statues are busy
they are scared of too many things
scared stamps could bear other portraits
scared streets and squares, schools, libraries
would all change their names
no more school kids saluting
no more chatting with sparrows
scared that one day
there’d be a rope
to pull them down

“mama, why is the statue green in the face?”
“no finger-pointing, your fingers fall off!”
“mama, the statue hides for a smoke at the fire brigade!”
“he just takes a break, he got burned in the sun every day.”

those statues have long forgotten the killings
of another generation
forgotten how they are still being used
they only remember the heat of the forge
it was hard to bear
and once you cool down, then come the years
standing empty and cold

Written on the eve of Febr. 28th, 2014,
67 years after the Febr. 28th, 1947 massacre.
Tr. MW, May 2014







I was very astonished when I first saw the picture. It does look like violence, the statue is smeared red. The poem is a revelation. Why would people have something against Sun Yat-sen? Nice guy, compared to what came later. Late retribution, for the killing of Thng Tek-Chiong, governor of Tainan in 1947, one of the first dead in the February 28 massacre? Sun Yat-sen is rather far from home in Tainan, far from his home base. I remember that small park near the train station in Taipei, where Sun Yat-sen lived when he visited Taiwan, it was a Japanese hotel back then. Small garden, very peaceful. A little forlorn and frail among the hustle and bustle around Taipei train station. Why would anyone be angry at a statue of Sun Yat-sen? In 2011 and early 2012, there were many conferences around the world in memory of the 1911 辛亥革命. People talked about many interesting things, but something like this? Without this poem, I would never have thought people would think that way about these statues. Not that much. So many killings back then, so much White Terror in decades, and no retribution. And the KMT still in power. There is repressed violence in people’s hearts, and everybody can count there lucky stars if they take it out only on statues.

Taiwan is a very peaceful and safe place, all in all. One-party dictatorship does create a sense of security for some, at least in retrospect. The world gets more complicated in those new-fangled pluralist societies. So there are people who blame the subway knife attack of a deranged student on May 21 on the student-led protests in March and early April this year. In Austria, the shameless tabloid that is much bigger than Murdoch and Berlusconi in their countries, still says things like all demonstrations and protest are leftist, and cost a lot of public money. When there are anti-foreigner rightists marching in Vienna, and the police need to protect them, it is not their fault, right? And if they want to have a ball in the emperor’s palace and parade on the square where Hitler proclaimed the Anschluss in 1938, it is their right and they should be protected, and if the whole city center is full of police barricades, it is the fault of those leftists. 

It’s the other way around! In a more open society, there is much less repressed violence. Look at the recent bloody clashes and attacks in many cities in China. That won’t get less, probably. Taiwan people should be very proud of that big, peaceful demonstration on March 30. Their country has become a much better place through the changes of the last 25 years. The KMT could and should be proud of that, too. But they are the 中國國民黨, so they have to think about stability in a much bigger way, don’t they?

REPUBLIC – 沈浩波 Shen Haobo

二月 25, 2014


Shen Haobo

all those so-called platonists
all those rotten at heart
all those taking themselves for judges and kings
all those dreaming of giving
directions to mankind
all those fat shining bugs
wagging their hidden poisonous hairs
banning lions and wolves
banning desperate youths
banning indecent wives
banning loonies and thieves
banning beggars and thugs
banning satan
banning contrary jesus
banning poets
banning me
without need
you don’t need to ban me
I was just passing by
just came looking to see how you’re doing at home
I have seen enough
your republic
holds no place for loonies and no place for me

Tr. MW, Febr. 2014

Three pictures, one Chinese Dream

三月 20, 2013

Ask not what Quan Ju De Peking Duck restaurants can do for you, ask what you can do for Quan Ju De Peking Duck restaurants!
Quan Ju De
“Dear reporters, after today’s press conference, you will believe in God.”
Life of Pig

Bloggers, and the Government, Respond to Pig Crisis

Father likes to take a nap…

From New Century Poetry Canon, compiled by Yi Sha 伊沙
Take a nap

Xing Mie

father likes to take a nap

father was born in 1949.
he always liked to fall asleep.
especially now
he dozes off all the time.
it’s like he never wakes up.
actually, mother says
when father was young,
he was very active at the unit.
went there early, came back late.
then, after 10 years of confusion
he never woke up again.
even when he sleeps
his eyes are half open.
Tr. MW, March 2013

And here are two more pictures. Waiting for a miracle, doing crazy things in the meantime. Like going shopping.

Photo by Kai Strittmatter

Photo by Kai Strittmatter

Photo by Kai Strittmatter

Photo by Kai Strittmatter

Or taking to the streets. Last autumn, all through the first chairmen transition period, China was full of demonstrations and looting because of an island dispute. One Politbureau contender had stumbled over his wife and his police chief. Populist mobilizer for Maoist songs. Then they came up with the Chinese Dream. Same ducks, same colors.

Anti-JapanBoycott sushi! Defend Quan Ju De Peking Duck Restaurant!

再说中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照) 300 Modern and Contemporary Chinese Poems (Chinese-English)

十一月 15, 2012

再说中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照)
Lucas Klein, translator of Xi Chuan 西川, has commented on 野鬼’s new anthology of 300 Modern and Contemporary Chinese Poems (Chinese-English) 中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照). Lucas Klein’s blog is called Notes on the Mosquito, like his new Xi Chuan translations compilation. Notes on the Mosquito as a title reminds me of Bei Dao’s 北岛 Harvest 收获, don’t know if that is intended.

There is Zhang Xinying’s 张新颖 fine anthology 中國新詩 from 2000 (in Chinese), incl. 2 interesting poems by Zhou Zuoren 周作人. Zhang has close to 100 poets and up to 10 poems from each of them. If you cover the last 30 or 40 years, it would have to be rather thick to include at least ten or twenty examples each from 食指、芒克、多多、楊煉、于堅、韓東、西川、伊沙等等,to mention only a few older living males.

My favorite contemporary anthology is 黃梁’s 大陸先鋒詩叢. 10 volumes came out in 1998/1999 – Bai Hua 柏华、Zhu Wen 朱文、Meng Lang 孟浪 etc. 等等. Another 10 came out in 2009, incl. Tibet’s poetess and dissident blogger Woeser 唯色, migrant worker poetess Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼(鄭小瓊), and a few more not-so-well-known poets like Pang Pei 庞培(born 1962).

The new 300-poems-anthology is Chinese-English, but it seems the English versions will all be done by Chinese translators. Some translators could be native speakers of English, and/or writing poetry in English. But it does look like an inner-Chinese project, so to speak. The Chinese Issue of The Drunken Boat from 2006 provides a very broad spectrum in the categories minorities, gender and localities in Asia and beyond. Xi Chuan is prominently featured. The 2008 China issue of The Atlantic Review also has an interesting mixture and beautiful poems, incl. Xi Chuan. But these two anthologies are all in English. In my earlier blog post on this topic of anthologies I have written about the advantages of starting from women writers and minorities. That was in Chinese, sorry.

Huang Liang is operating in Taiwan, but he still had some trouble with Mainland authorities about meeting and publishing Woeser 唯色. The 300 modern poems anthology includes the blind folk singer Zhou Yunpeng 周云蓬, who is also in the 10/19/12 New Statesman issue curated by Ai Weiwei, along with Zuoxiao Zuzhou 左小祖咒. On the other hand, compiler Diablo 野鬼 (Zhao Siyun 赵思云 is not the editor) told me they could never include Li Qin’an’s 李勤安 When Martial Law Was Lifted 解嚴以後, because with books you have to worry much more about (self-)censorship than online. I think When Martial Law Was Lifted 解嚴以後 is a landmark poem in any sense. I like Xi Chuan’s poetry very much, but on the whole now and then it needs to be complemented with something more explicitly political. Actually you could say the same about Hsia Yu 夏宇, maybe. Anyway, Li Qin’an 李勤安 still sounds relevant in Taiwan today, according to some of my friends there. On the Mainland, the role(s) of poetry are more acutely questioned, also by Zhao Siyun 赵思云 and Diablo 野鬼 (Zhang Zhi 张智), for example. See Diablo 野鬼’s “非诗” and Zhao Siyun’s Lili’s Story 丽丽传.

Punks, empathy and torture: Pussy Riot in China and Vienna

八月 17, 2012


Aug. 25

Daniele Kowalsky showed me a very interesting interview with Jonathan Campbell in the L.A. Review of Books. Jonathan Campbell talks with Jeffrey Wasserstrom about 盤古 Pangu,崔健 Cui Jian,無聊軍隊 Wuliao Jundui and other details of rock music and punk in China.

Unfortunately, I can’t agree with Jonathan that yaogun 摇滚 (Chinese rock music) could galvanize China like Pussy Riot seems to have galvanized opposition in Russia. Cui Jian 崔建 did have some very memorable moments, and people in China do remember them, and they will tell you readily about the parts before 1989, mostly. But those moments in 1989 were so painful in the end that no one knows if there will ever be a similar broad-based protest movement again. 1989 brought hope in Europe. Risk, very risky change, and some very ugly violence in Romania. But overall there was hope, and whatever came out of it, 1989 is generally remembered as a year of wonder. In China it’s a trauma. A wound that is usually covered up, but even China is very much connected to the world nowadays, and the world knows. And there are much deeper and older traumata, which can be accessed and shared via 1989. So in that way, there is hope. Connected to underground music. Like the kind that Liao Yiwu’s 廖亦武 music comes from.

There are parallels, certainly. Parallels between Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei 艾未未, in the pornography. Parallels in the way of some Ai Weiwei news or other embarrassing news everyone gets to know about, and the dark stuff below. The disappearances, the longer ones, see Gao Zhisheng 高智晟. And the corpses. I learned about the late attorney Sergei Magnitsky via Pussy Riot. He died in jail in 2009, and among people concerned with Russia he is as famous as Gao is in and outside China, which means not so many people want to talk about him or even admit they’ve heard of cases like that. Of course, there are corpses under the carpets in every country. Only China is the oldest 5000 year old one, of course.

Aug. 22

2 years for singing in church. Perfectly absurd. Punk music, controversial art. Public space and religion. Russia, Africa, China. What is art? Depends where you are, what you are, who you are, who is with you. What you believe.

One week ago I read two books. A few months before I got to know a poet. Still haven’t seen her. A Jewish poet in Germany, soon to be teaching in Vienna. Esther Dischereit.

Last month I finally got around to pick up a book that contains many poems I translated. Freedom of writing. Writers in prison. A beautiful anthology, edited by Helmuth Niederle, currently head of Austrian PEN.

Connections. Connected to China. Punk music isn’t all that subversive, not in a big way, usually. What if musicians insult the government on stage. Well, I’ve been to about 300 concerts in China, said Yan Jun. Sometimes someone was screaming something in that direction. But they aren’t big stars. They can be ignored.

Christa Wolf. Stadt der Engel. The Overcoat of Dr. Freud. Long and convoluted. Gems in there. How she was loyal to the Party in 1953. And insisted on protest against Party policy. How and what they hoped in 1989. How and what Germany was and is.

Aug. 21

2 years for singing in church. And many more arrested. It does sound more like China than Russia, doesn’t it? The case of Li Wangyang 李旺陽李汪洋) comes to mind. Li Wangyang died around June 4th 2012 in police care after being released from over 20 years of jail. He was a labor activist in the 1989 protests that ended with the massacre on June 4th in Beijing. Li Wangyang supposedly killed himself, but the police report was disputed in China and in Hong Kong, where tens of thousands of people protested. Li’s relatives and friends are still being persecuted. One has been formally arrested and accused of revealing state secrets, because he photographed Li’s body.

Parallels between Russia and China were drawn in media comments after the verdict in Moscow. One comment wondered whether Russia is trying to emulate China, where the word civil society is banned on the Internet. China has had economic success for decades. People put up with authoritarian one-party rule there, the comment said. But it won’t work in Russia, because the economy depends on natural resources, not on industry. The comment contained the old misunderstanding that in China, government policy and enforced stability have caused economic success. Beijing wants the world to think that, of course. However, the prominent law and economy professors Qin Hui 秦暉 and He Weifang 賀衛方 have been saying for years that the economic miracle of the 1980s depended on a consensus to move away from the Cultural Revolution, as well as on investment from Taiwan, Hong Kong and overseas. After 1989, there has been no comparable social consensus. After 1989, the social drawbacks and the gap between rich and poor may have grown faster than the economy. But the middle class has also grown. Regional protests are frequent but limited. Or the other way ’round. The Internet remains vibrant. With Weibo microblogs inside the Great Firewall, and very much Chinese going on outside. Not because the government initiates it. They let it happen. The economy, the art, the internet. Even protests, when they are against Japan, and/or not too big. And they profit. The oligarchy is the Party.

Religion and more or less independent art have been growing in China, about as much as the social conflicts. Art brings huge profits, so they let it happen. In Russia, Pussy Riot have succeeded in connecting independent art, oppositional politics and religion in a highly visible way. Art, political activism and religion are voluble factors, so much that societies where everyday news has been fixated on finance for at least four years now could almost grow jealous.

Pussy Riot were not mentioned in our church on Sunday, as far as I could tell. I had to look after the children. But the preacher drew on her experiences from jail work. She championed the rights of refugees and was a prominent anti-governmental figure in Austria in the 1990s. Direct relevance for religion in Austrian politics is rare. We had Catholic Austro-Fascism in the 1930s, paving the way for Hitler. Some Protestant Nazis as well. After the Holocaust, religion in Austria has a somewhat undead quality. A bit like traditional opera in China, which is rallying, hopefully.

For international discussion about the relevance of underground art, music and religion, China has Liao Yiwu 廖亦武. And Russia has Pussy Riot.

Photo by Vincent Yu/AP

Aug. 17

Worldwide empathy for Pussy Riot is great. The trial in Moscow ends today, so I don’t know yet if three women have to remain in jail for years after singing in a church. There was a lot of worldwide attention last year as Ai Weiwei 艾未未 was abducted and detained by Chinese state security. He was released and voted most influential artist worldwide. I have seen graffiti in support of Pussy Riot here in Vienna in the last few days. One at newly renovated Geology Institute. Not very nice. And there was some kind of happening at the Vienna Russian Orthodox church, I heard. Church authorities not amused. Well, hopefully worldwide support can help enough this time. Quite recently, many political prisoners in China have been sentenced to more than 10 years. There was a lot of attention abroad in one case. And a Nobel.

Austria is a nice place, generally. Sometimes it’s uglier than Germany. Generally uglier, in terms of police abusing, even killing people, always getting away with it. Have been reading Vienna Review and Poetry Salzburg Review in the last few days. News and poetry. Many of our friends here in Vienna are not from Austria. Coming from abroad often provides a clearer perspective.

Image   Image

Aug. 14

Read two good books. Not in Chinese. Ok, in Chinese I’m reading poetry. And other books, not enough. Anyway. Cornelia Travnicek and Manfred Nowak. Both in German. Non-Fiction and Fiction. No connection. Like Liao Yiwu 廖亦武, Bei Ling 貝嶺 and that Berlin novel, what was it called? Plan D. Ok, there was a connection. Taipei Bookfair 台北國際書展. Ok or not, no connection. A novel. Punks in Austria. Young and female. Male protagonists dead or dying. Ok, not all of them. Anyway, good novel. Vienna, occupied, death, youth, love, society, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s. 2012 exhibition at Wien Museum. Empathy. And the other book? Torture. Human Rights, UN, Austria, torture in Austria (see this newspaper report, also in German), Moldavia, Equatorial-Guinea or how do you call that country, Uruguay and so on. Neglect. Conditions of/for empathy. Ok, so both books are about empathy. Good. And in German. Oh well, maybe some people who read this read German. Or they’ll get translated. The books, not you. Manfred Nowak’s books and other written sources are available in several other languages than German. You can get some very useful stuff in English for free here.

Liu Xiaobo biography events

一月 17, 2011

Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident sentenced to 11 years on Dec.25th 2009 for “inciting subversion“, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in absentia in Oslo on Dec. 10th, 2010. Liu’s old friend and Independent Chinese PEN co-founder Bei Ling has written a biography of Liu Xiaobo. Bei Ling started off from an essay he wrote in June 1989 in New York, after Liu Xiaobo had been arrested in Beijing in the aftermath of the massacre throughout the city, as People’s Liberation Army troops forced their way through the streets blocked by protesters in the last phase of the demonstrations on Tian’anmen Square. Liu Xiaobo had returned to China from New York and led a hunger strike of intellectuals on the square, supporting the students and Beijing residents in their demands for civil liberties. Bei Ling‘s essay from 1989 was re-published in Chinese in Hongkong and Taiwan in June 2009, and in the German newspaper FAZ on October 12th, 2010, a few days after the Nobel Peace prize announcement from Oslo. Soon after, the German publisher Riva expressed interest in a biography of Liu. Bei Ling had recently written a literary memoir of his years a Beijing underground poet in the 1980s and a literary magazine editor, shuttling between China and foreign countries, in the 1990s. Liu Xiaobo and other old friends such as Liao Yiwu are important figures in Bei Ling’s memoir, to be published by Suhrkamp in Germany this year. So Bei Ling was ready to write his biography of Liu Xiaobo on short notice. It was a crazy idea, but it worked. We worked around the clock in November 2010, and in early December the book hit the shelves. In the first week, from Dec. 9 to 16, it sold 2500 volumes, according to the publisher. Since then, Bei Ling’s biography of Liu Xiaobo has been reviewed in many newspapers, magazines, on TV and radio stations etc. throughout Germany and in neighbouring countries. This month (January 2011), according to the publisher, the book has started to appear on the Spiegel magazine’s bestseller list, the standard list in the German-speaking realm. On January 11th, 2011, a symposion with Bei Ling, Prof. Weigelin-SchwiedrzikProf. Findeisen, Prof. Zhu Jiaming, Dr. Felix Wemheuer and others was held at Vienna University and met with great interest among students and teachers from various faculties. See here …

Liu Xiaobo 劉曉波 discussion at Vienna University 1/11/11, featuring Liu Xiaobo biographer Bei Ling 貝嶺, Prof. Weigelin 魏格林, Prof. Findeisen 馮鐵, Dr. Felix Wemheuer 文浩, Prof. Zhu Jiaming 朱嘉明 and many others. Felix Wemheuer, noted for research into the Great Leap Forward famine, moderated the lively discussion following Bei Ling's lecture.

Liu Xiaobo biographer Bei Ling at Vienna University on Jan. 11th, 2011. Photo: Angelika Burgsteiner

%d 博主赞过: