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By Shi Tao

My whole life
Will never get past “June”
June, when my heart died
When my poetry died
When my lover
Died in romance’s pool of blood.

June, the scorching sun burns open my skin
Revealing the true nature of my wound.

June, the fish swims out of the blood-red sea
Toward another place to hibernate.

June, the earth shifts, the rivers fall silent
Piled up letters unable to be delivered to the dead.

Translated from Chinese to English by Chip Rolley, Sydney PEN Centre

About Shi Tao and "June"

Shi Tao is a Chinese journalist, poet and PEN member, serving 10 years in prison on the charge of "revealing state secrets abroad". In April 2004, Shi Tao (Shi is his family name) attended an editorial meeting of the Contemporary Commerce News where he worked, and where a document was read out from the Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party warning the media on their reportage during the upcoming 15th anniversary of the June 4 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests and Beijing massacre.

Using a Yahoo! e-mail account and another name, Shi Tao sent notes he took of this document to overseas pro-democracy websites that publish news and information from China. His notes were published on Demoracy Net, Democracy Forum, and others. He was convicted and sentenced for that e-mail. According to court documents, Yahoo! (Hong Kong) Holdings Ltd provided the Chinese authorities with Shi Tao's identity.

Shi Tao wrote the poem 'June', a meditation on the 1989 protests and massacre, less than two months after he sent that fateful email - on June 9, 2004.

Organizers of the PEN Poem Relay chose ‘June’ for this relay not to re-open old wounds on the eve of the Olympics, but to pay tribute to a poet who bravely acted in the face of censorship.

The events of 1989 in Beijing and other cities in China remain to this day a censored topic in China. The e-mail Shi Tao sent was about the censorship of events on June 4 1989. In sending that email, Shi Tao bravely acted against that censorship.


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