Todd Swift | 14 September, 2020


Your beauty illuminates only a heap of idiots ——
Rain night to dear Xiaonan*

Please abandon the idea of always trying to write a good poem
In a cursed old country
so many people stepping out of the libraries
are still just a bunch of jerks

Please abandon the long night
and even the dawn at the end of the long night
Such a good country and hometown in the hymn of praise
is still just a pile of fools

Please discard my last book of poetry published in mainland China
which you helped to publish and which had been removed from shelves
In a country where Qiu Jin and Lin Zhao* have been dead for many years
your beauty only illumines a heap of idiots


Sep 12, 2020 Simple Words House


1) "Xiaonan" refers to Geng Xiaonan, a longtime friend of the poet. Thanks to the efforts of her and many other friends, the poet's most important book of poetry in mainland China was published by the official publishing house, but it was soon removed from the shelves and was not allowed to be formally sold or republished. This respectable woman disappeared recently with her husband because of her frequent appearances in various media outlets in support of Tsinghua University professor Xu Zhangrun, who was arrested on stigmatized charge of a client of hookers for criticizing current state leaders and national policies. Professor Xu has now been released, but expelled from Tsinghua University and has been subjected to a series of crackdowns and ostracism. Now people at home and abroad are focusing on the safety of Ms. Geng and her husband; the poet wrote this poem and published it on the "self-media" of China's WeChat and Weibo (like Twitter) - he uses this poem to denounce the silent majority, and he hopes more people would pay attention to Ms. Geng and her husband’s safety.

The following is a brief introduction of Geng Xiaonan: Geng Xiaonan, female, publisher Chief Executive, Legendary Tianhui (Beijing) Film Co. LTD Director of the China Social Work Development Foundation Lost contact with family and friends in early September.

2) "Qiu Jin" is a female martyr and poet who sacrificed her life for overthrowing thousands of years of totalitarian government and made great contributions to the Revolution of 1911. She advocated women's rights and women's education, played a great role in promoting the development of the women's liberation movement, and tried to establish The China Women's News. On the early morning of July 15, 1907, Qiu Jin was sentenced to death and shot dead in Shaoxing Xuan Tingkou, aged 32; and like the poet Yu Xinqiao, was from Shaoxing, Zhejiang province.

Lin Zhao (1932-1968), a native of Suzhou, was born into a Chinese Christian family. In 1954, she entered the Department of Chinese Literature at Peking University with the highest test score in Jiangsu Province. She insisted that she was innocent of telling the truth. During the Cultural Revolution, she continued to attack personal superstition and the extreme left line in prison, preferring death to surrender, and was killed in Shanghai. After her death, the grieving mother received a notice from the authorities asking her to pay for the bullet that killed her daughter. It was a historical coincidence that Yu Xinqiao was born in the same year that Lin Zhao died, and feels he continues her work.

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