The question was famously asked by former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia in a provocative essay some years ago. It does matter, it seems, in China, where a poem can get you arrested. That's what happened to Zhu Yufu, a poet and dissident, who was arrested for a poem. At Camel Saloon, a Free Zhu Yufu site has been established and a petition started to urge authorities to free him and allow more free speech. It's time to sign the petition! Please do, if you feel so moved.
His poem begins, "Its time, China!" It is time for China to open up and allow free speech. This is the first stanza, as translated by Andrew E. Clark.
t’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.
Monday, February 06, 2012
I was delighted to interview the fascinating poet Deema Shehabi for the current issue of Fringe Magazine about what it's like to be a poet living in two worlds, the country of current residence, and the country of memory. Deema's new book, Thirteen Departures from the Moon, is a transcendently beautiful collection centering on that dual identity and experience.