Shanghai-born poet Meng Lang 孟浪, co-founder of Independent Chinese PEN, passed away following a battle with cancer on December 12 in Hong Kong.
The New York Times has run an article on his life, mentioning a few friends of this blog:
Meng Lang was born in Shanghai in 1961 and participated in several unofficial poetry movements in China throughout the 1980s, according a short biographical sketch published by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, where Ms. [Tammy] Ho is a founding editor.
He later helped edit the book “A Compendium of Modern Chinese Poerty, 1986-1988,” and was a writer in residence at Brown University from 1995 to 1998, according to the sketch. Professor Huang [Yibing] of Connecticut College said that Mr. Meng moved to Hong Kong from the United States in 2006, and to Taiwan in 2015.
Mr. Meng “played an important, fearless role in championing an unorthodox, experimental and free-spirited poetry in China back in the 1980s,” Professor Huang, who is also a poet, said in an email.
The article also quotes lines from a poem of Meng’s, as translated by Anne Henochowicz:
Broadcast the death of a nation
Broadcast the death of a country
Hallelujah, only he is coming back to life.
Who stopped his resurrection
This nation has no murderer
This country has no bloodstain.
An article in Radio Free Asia also provides context on his life and works:
He had also managed an Archive of Chinese Underground Literature and Exile Literature after moving to the democratic island of Taiwan.
According to Taiwan poet Hung Hung, Meng always felt he was in exile after moving to Taiwan and Hong Kong to live with his Taiwan-born wife, Tu Chia-chi [杜家祁].
“He would say that it’s hard for trees to uproot and move somewhere else, and that he was forced into exile as a Chinese,” Hung Hung [鴻鴻] said. “This exile was thrust upon him, and it was particularly hard for him.”
“His last poem, about a fallen leaf finally blowing back home, is very beautiful and moving,” Hung said. “I think now he has passed away, the fallen leaf has finally returned home.”
Nick Admussen tweeted with links to more of his poems in English translation.
There has been an outpouring of affection and remembrances of Meng Lang on his Facebook page, and there is a reading in his memory in Hong Kong tomorrow night (Tuesday, December 18).