The writer, critic, poet, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, 2017, after six and a half years in a Chinese prison. His crime was to speak for democracy, human rights, and the unbounded freedom of artistic and literary expression.

As we mourn the loss of this great spirit of resistance, let’s remember that dozens of U.S. “avant-garde” poets, and over the course of years, traveled to China on poetry junkets (usually under the auspices of PennSound), or else participated with the Chinese state-run Confucius Institute here in the U.S., never once publicly raising their voices on Liu Xiaobo’s behalf, nor on behalf of the many other writers and artists imprisoned and persecuted by the Chinese state.

Let Liu Xiaobo’s heroic example live on our imaginations and be a beacon to future American poets.

– Dispatches