Time Magazine has a feature on Xu Lizhi 许立志, the former poet and Foxconn employee who committed suicide last September, whom they call “The Poet who Died for your Phone.”
In his 3½ years in Shenzhen, Xu captured life there in brutal, beautiful detail. In the city, the country kid found a voice that roared, publishing poems in company newspaper Foxconn People and sharing his work online. Factory workers are often treated as interchangeable, anonymous. To readers, his words were a reminder that every laborer has a mind and heart; for him, writing was a way out. “Writing poems gives me another way of life,” he told a Chinese journalist in an unpublished interview that TIME has seen. “When you’re writing poems, you’re not confined to the real world.”
As sidebars to their article, Time runs and links to translations of Xu’s poems by The Nao Project as published at libcom.org. In the body of the article, however, they quote (and alter, incorrectly: mala tang is not soup) my translation of “I Speak of Blood” 我谈到血, published by China Labour Bulletin–though without crediting me:
In the 2013 “I Speak of Blood,” Xu Lizhi captured the teeming cosmopolitanism of his adopted home, observing from his “matchbox” room a mix of: “Stray women in long-distance marriages/ Sichuan chaps selling mala soup/ Old ladies from Henan running stands/ And me with my eyes open all night to write a poem/ After running about all day to make a living.”
Translators, too, are often treated as interchangeable, anonymous. (Nao had their own problems with their translations being run, uncredited, by Bloomberg).
Time also notes that “Chinese poet Qin Xiaoyu [秦晓宇] is making a documentary film about Xu’s life and work.”