A speech for presenting the 8th Freedom to Write Award
Today, we, the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, present the 8th Freedom to Write Award to poet and writer Ye Fu. We have now added another glorious name to the list of recipients of the Freedom to Write Award, from which the testing rod of freedom of Chinese writing has another glowing mark on it.
Ye Fu, aka Zheng Shiping, was born in Lichuan County in Ensi, Hubei Province. He entered the Department of Chinese at Hubei Ethnic Studies Institute and enrolled at the writers’ programme in Wuhan University in 1986. He was assigned to work in a public security unit in 1988, but he left the public security to express his sympathy towards the students in 1989. He provided assistance to some pro-democracy activists but he was betrayed and was imprisoned for several years. He worked in publishing and editing for many years after he was released from prison. He is currently a freelance writer.
Ye Fu has inherited and maintains the humanistic spirit and humanitarianism of literature. He is concerned about the plight of ordinary people and he is serious about truth. He said: “Writing is a resistance, both a resistance against the dark side of our hearts and against the evils in our society. Without the foundation of truth, critical thinking of the time and the hope for freedom, that kind of writing would not be worth even a penny to me.” He also said: “In our time, we are destined to live in a time of creating tragedies. In fact, what I write today can only express a small bit of sadness in my heart.” “After I have experienced so many weird destinies, I can feel even more strongly that if I hadn’t written about the sufferings of these kind people, I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes when I die.”
Ye Fu started writing in late 1970s, covering genres from poetry to fiction, essays and reportage literature. In his life of writing for more than three decades, he maintains the spirits of independence and freedom to resist the discourse of hegemony. He also doesn’t go after fame or money. His works are thus not accepted by mundane society. People call him an internet writer, independent and expressive. His works include: “Mother on the River,” “Don’t Dream of the Lost River,” “The Mourning of Landlords,” “The Destiny after Organizing,” “Romance of the Revolution,” and “Lamenting Living at the End of the World.”
Ye Fu’s works are highly literary, digging the richness of humanity. He has a broad vision and he is imaginative. His language is solid but vivid, wild but delicate, expressive but restrained. It is particularly remarkable that he refuses to conceal and forget, but he recalls, witnesses and reflects on the trauma of the Chinese people having to experience various big changes as a result of the wrong choice of paths in social and political changes since 1949. The words he writes about his clan, family and parents are among the most touching passages about the history of darkness and mental hardship and resistance of our people in the past century.
In midst of the current mundane society in China, Ye Fu’s PEN experience has pierced through all feigned flauntiness and opened a land of simplicity, a land of inspiration and aesthetics, a land which is filled with the endless thoughts and feelings of sufferings in China. His works transcend to the highest level of spirituality.
We are here to present him the Freedom to Write Award. It’s a timely honour. It’s an exemplary call to assemble under the flag of the spirit of freedom to write!
(TheAuthor Meng Lang is ordinator of Freedom to Write Committee, ndependent Chinese PEN Centre)