To Die Is to Perish in Your Hands

Yu Xinjiao (translated by Clara Hsu)

Yu Xinjiao: To Die Is to Perish in Your Hands

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Link to original Chinese text.

Born in Fujian and raised in Zhejiang, Yu Xinqiao is one of the most important poets in China today. A middle school dropout, Yu became a popular speaker on the subjects of poetry and Chinese culture in the years following the June 4 crackdown. In 1993 he called for a “Chinese Renaissance Movement,” a proposal welcomed by many but frowned upon by the government. He was subsequently jailed for eight years on dubious charges. While many mainstream journals, in fear of censorship, shy away from his work, his poem “If I Have to Die,” set to music, was a big hit, and his other work is now widely known among Chinese readers.

Translator Clara Hsu was a nominee for a Pushcart Prize in poetry (2001). Her first book of poems, Mystique, received honorable mention at the 2010 San Francisco Book Festival. Some of her poems can be found in New Millennium Writings, The Tower Journal, The Other Voices International Project, Asian Cha and Red River Review.

Image: From Bredwig