Worldwide Reading Day Liu Xiaobo

On the 20th March there is going to be a Worldwide Reading Day organised by English PEN. Ok, so what is so special about this Worldwide Reading Day? It is in support of Liu Xiaobo imprisoned in China. He hasn’t committed the kind of crime that you and I would recognise. He is a writer and co-wrote ‘Charter 08’, a manifesto calling for greater freedoms and democracy in China. For this, in 2009, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison on a spurious charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. In 2010 Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but was not allowed to leave China to collect the prize. The sight of an empty chair at the ceremony in Stockholm, a poignant reminder to the world of his incarceration. He remains today the only winner held in detention. It is worth noting, this has happened before, in 1936, the German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, could not go to collect his Nobel Peace Prize, when he was barred from leaving Nazi Germany. An unsettling comparison perhaps for the Chinese government.

So be part of this Worldwide Reading Day and show your support for Liu Xiaobo and many others in China and across the world, not free to say, to write and to read what they want. A level of freedom we take for granted here in the UK and elsewhere in the West. Please read Liu Xiaobo’s poem ‘You Wait for me with Dust’ with the dedication ‘for my wife who waits everyday’ or listen to the poem read by Menna Bonsels.

I am delighted that  Liu Xiaobo’s poem has been translated into Welsh by Dr Menna Elfyn, Director of Creative Writing at the University of Wales & Poet. And is read in Welsh by Menna Bonsels.

It is also available in Chinese.

Please share this poem in whatever way you can.

 Thank you.