Empty Chairs by Liu Xia

Empty Chairs by Liu Xia
liu xia

Empty Chairs by Liu Xia tells the author’s life story through her powerful poetry.

I didn’t have a chance
to say a word before you became
a character in the news,
everyone looking up to you
as I was worn down
at the edge of the crowd

just smoking
and watching the sky.

A new myth, maybe, was forming
there, but the sun was so bright
I couldn’t see it.

—from “June 2nd, 1989 (for Xiaobo)”

Empty Chairs presents the poetry of Liu Xia for the first time freely in both English translation and in the Chinese original. Selected from thirty years of her work, and including some of her haunting photography, this book creates a portrait of a life lived under duress, a voice in danger of being silenced, and a spirit that is shaken but so far indomitable. Liu Xia’s poems are potent, acute moments of inquiry that peel back to expose the fraught complexity of an interior world. They are felt and insightful, colored through with political constraints even as they seep beyond those constraints and toward love.

Liu Xia is a Chinese poet and artist. English translations of Liu Xia’s poetry by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern have been published widely, and Liu Xia’s photographs have appeared in galleries throughout the world. She has been living under strict house arrest since her husband, poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, was imprisoned in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
  • ISBN: 978-1-55597-725-2
  • 144 pages
  • November 3, 2015

Publisher: Graywolf Press