“The Farther from the Motherland, the Closer to the Mother Tongue”
Chinese poet Bei Ling was born (1959) and bred in Shanghai, but has been living in exile since the turn of the millennium, presently in Taiwan and the United States. As a prolific writer, he has not only been an incorruptible witness to injustice but has transformed his personal experiences into meticulous literary surveys of contemporary China. After his arrest in Beijing in August 2000, Susan Sontag, Günter Grass, Czesław Miłosz, and other renowned writers intervened on their friend Bei Ling’s behalf contributing to his release from the notorious Qinghe Detention Center, from which he was subsequently deported to the United States. In turn, Bei Ling has defended the causes of numerous Chinese writers, publishers, and artists, including Ai Weiwei, Gui Minhai, and, above all, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiabo. Together with Liu Xiabo, he has also founded the Independent Chinese Pen Center, over which he currently presides.
Among Bei Ling‘s extensive writings, we not only find articles in leading German-language media like Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel, and Süddeutsche Zeitung but also Chinese translations of Paul Celan’s poems, published by Suhrkamp in 2012.
In his lecture, Bei Ling will examine crucial stages of his biography, explore the multiple facets of writing in exile and share his understanding of Chinese and European poetry (in translation).
More specifically, Bei Ling will deal with the political poetry of Meng Lang (1961-2018) and examine the rebellious poetry of Burmese lyricists who were killed by the Tatmadaw, the Armed Forces of Myanmar, before analyzing and extending his personal dialogue with Seamus Heaney, published in The Los Angeles Times (https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-dec-31-bk-6548-story.html).