Issue 174, Summer 2005
Your nearsighted eyes cannot do the shooting. In response to the chinese government’s killing of pro-democracy protestors at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Liao Yiwu wrote several poems in which his anger at the state is matched by his own sense of frustration at being unable to fight back:
You were born with the soul of an assassin
But at time of action
You are at a loss, doing nothing.
You have no sword to draw
Your body a sheath rusted
Your hands shaking
Your bones rotten
Liao was unable to publish these poems in China, but a tape-recording of him reciting “Massacre,” an epic account of the Tiananmen catastrophe, was circulated widely around the country. That tape, and a movie he made of its sequel, “Requiem,” landed him in jail with a four-year sentence. Most of his work is still banned in China, where he has been in hiding of late, seeking to avoid arrest by the Public Security Police for interviewing members of an outlawed religious group.
In addition to his poems, Liao is also th…