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About this poet

Liu Xia is the author of Empty Chairs: Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2015), which was translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern. Also a painter and photographer, Liu is a founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. She lived under extralegal house arrest in Beijing after her husband, the poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. She was released in 2018 and lives in Berlin, Germany.

A Landscape

translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern

One person’s landscape
is monotonous and desolate
in the eyes of passersby,
like a forgotten word in the ocean of a dictionary,
an incomplete image in a broken lens.

With my eyes closed, I learn how to paint
by myself and in solidarity with you in my soul,
brighter with every stroke.

A blind person’s landscape,
as it’s of one heart and mind,
is unfettered, unrestrained.

Even when imprisoned
you can reach
the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

4/1997

From Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Liu Xia. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

From Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Liu Xia. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Liu Xia

Liu Xia is the author of Empty Chairs: Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2015).

by this poet

poem

translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern

An aging woman is pushing
a baby stroller
through a park of sun and dust.
Some dolls sit upright in the stroller.

Children free themselves from their parents’ hands
and