Poet Liao Yiwu’s Nightmare in Chinese Prison

At The New York Times, Elaine Sciolino talks to poet and author Liao Yiwu about his forthcoming memoir For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet’s Journey Through a Chinese Prison, to be published in the U.S. on June 4th.

The title refers to an incident in prison when he broke the rules by singing; as punishment, he was ordered to sing 100 songs. When his voice gave out, he was tortured with electric shocks from a baton inserted into his anus.

“I felt like a duck whose feathers were being stripped,” he writes.

[…] Even now, he experiences a recurring nightmare. “I am flying and I see people on the ground with guns and knives running after me,” he said. “But I am a bird without legs, and when I can’t fly anymore, I fall to the ground. The people come nearer and nearer, and as soon as they are about to attack, I wake up filled with terror.”

[…] He sees his mission as a storyteller of human suffering, not as a reformer striving for change in what he calls the “foul pigsty” that is China. “I have no interest in what China will become,” he said. “My suggestion would be that China crumbles into dozens of little countries so that it would no longer be the terrible menace it is now.”

See more on the book and Liao’s incarceration via CDT.


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