Xue Di

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Xue Di

Xue Di is a native of Beijing. After taking part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tian’anmen Square, he left China and, since 1990, has been a fellow in Brown University’s “Freedom to Write” program. He has published three books of poems in Chinese; Hui Yi (Remembering), Chan Li (Trembling), and Meng Yi (Dream Talk); five books in English translation, contributed to many magazines, and is also known as anthologist and critic. Three volumes of Xue Di’s collected works, prepared for publication in mainland China in 1999, were stopped in press due to governmental censorship.

Sitting in the sun

Sitting in the sun, he writes
and turns the darkness in his heart
to the light
In the sun he is
surprised to see himself
That enemy, who stuffs your gut and holds your
soul by force, ages you
Unspeakable fear
takes hold. Sometimes for no good reason you
hate yourself. That enemy
inside you
gets off a good exit line
while you doze in the sun

Sitting in the sun, he dreams
and turns
life inside out. This way we can
live again, distinguish the
too soiled facets. We were young then and
careless. Thread hung
from torn parts. We didn’t know how
to use our bodies properly
Only sitting in the sun we
begin to know love
Just as we begin to feel warm and enlightened
death–like time malfunctioning
–stumbles out from a living short cut
with a good poem

Sitting in the sun:
the light is leading him
off from where he’s been
sleeping away his life



Reading with Marlene Nourbese Philip | September 30, 1999