Welcome News of Imprisoned Swedish Publisher/Poet Gui Minhai’s Upcoming Collection “I Draw Blood on the Wall with My Finger”

Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

“We enthusiastically welcome the news of Gui Minhai’s forthcoming book of poetry, which will serve not only as a literary work but also as a reminder that Gui continues to be unjustly detained,” said James Tager, deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America. 



Taipei Times and PEN America announced that Gui Mihai, Swedish publisher and poet, imprisoned in China since 2015 will have a collection of his poetry – purportedly smuggled from his cell – published next year. The volume is entitled I Draw Blood on the Wall with My Finger. It’s publication will coincide with Gui’s 56th birthday.

Gui Minhai has been in detention since Chinese state security agents kidnapped him from Thailand in October 2015. Gui is a member of the Causeway Bay Bookstore Five, a group of publishers and booksellers affiliated with Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Bookstore, all disappeared by Chinese state agents in late 2015.

Causeway Bay Bookstore in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; 3 January 2016

“We enthusiastically welcome the news of Gui Minhai’s forthcoming book of poetry, which will serve not only as a literary work but also as a reminder that Gui continues to be unjustly detained,” said James Tager, deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America. “Gui’s continued detention – more than four years after his abduction – serves as a representation of the Chinese government’s continued blatant disregard for human rights and international law. On the occasion of this announcement, we reiterate our call that Gui be immediately and unconditionally released, and allowed to rejoin his family.”

Numerous human rights and free expression groups – including PEN America – have continually decried Gui’s illegal detention. In October 2017, the conditions of Gui’s confinement were reportedly relaxed until January 2018, when Chinese state agents forcibly stopped him from traveling with Swedish diplomats for a medical examination in Beijing. Gui has reportedly exhibited symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a degenerative neurological disease, and PEN America remains concerned for his health.

PEN America previously concluded in a November 2016 report that the Chinese government’s disappearance of the Causeway Bay Bookstore Five, as well as the conditions of their detentions – including a series of forced “confessions” from the booksellers that numerous observers have concluded were obviously scripted by state agents – constituted “a wide range of human rights abuses.”

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Editorial Note: This feature is complied courtesy of  PEN America, Taipei Times, The Washington Post, and Radio Free Asia.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

National Banned Books Week (Sept. 22-28) Focus on the Right to Read in the Nation’s Prisons

“Literature Locked Up” will engage authors, readers, and policymakers to support an end to prison book bans nationwide.”



America’s prison system implements that largest book ban in the United States. This year, as part of national Banned Books Week (Sept. 22 – 28), the free expression and literary organization PEN America will launch a weeklong initiative to shed light on the practice of banning books in the nation’s prisons and jails. “Literature Locked Up: Banned Books Week 2019” will feature events across the country, online activities, and public education to highlight restrictions of the right to read for the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States.

“With all of our societal focus on how to make the criminal justice system more just and less self-defeating, vindicating the right to read in prison is an obvious and essential step,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “Yet tens of thousands of books are banned in prisons. Systems ban access to everything from classics including Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Toni Morrison’s Paradise, to coloring and self-help books. These restrictions are stunningly arbitrary and defeat the ability of incarcerated people to learn, explore, and envision a future. We call on states and the federal government to lift these pointless bans and uphold the freedom to read.”

Increasingly, state and federal prisons are dramatically restricting book deliveries or shutting them down entirely. The federal Bureau of Prisons recently attempted to institute an unexplained 30 percent markup on books ordered by or for incarcerated readers, ultimately rescinding that idea under public pressure. Texas’ Department of Criminal Justice has banned over 15,000 books from its prison system, including books by Alice Walker, John Grisham, Michelle Alexander, Jenna Bush Hager, Frederick Douglass, and Bob Dole. Throughout Banned Books Week, PEN America and its members will highlight this injustice and call for reform.

As part of “Literature Locked Up,” PEN America has launched a national petition drive urging the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to convene hearings on book banning in the nation’s prisons. The organization is coordinating with bookstores and other partners across the country to highlight book bans, including events in Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas. And alongside the Dramatists Legal Fund, PEN America will co-present Banned Together, a series of performances across the country of shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage.

“Banning books is a serious threat to free inquiry and free expression,” said award-winning author and PEN America board member Dinaw Mengestu. “We’re calling on state prison systems across the country to review their policies and, where possible, rescind arbitrary book bans. And we’re asking members of Congress to review book restriction practices at the federal level. Oftentimes all that stands between prisoners and a transformative work of literature are arbitrary decisions made by wardens and prison mailrooms. It just shouldn’t be that way.”

PEN America has long been at the forefront of supporting the right of incarcerated people to create and access literature, including mentoring, honoring, and finding audiences for writers currently in prison through the Prison and Justice Writing Program. Many of those writers will be featured in a series of public readings co-sponsored by PEN America and The Poetry Project. That series, BREAK OUT, will include dozens of public readings events for the month of September.

Read more about the “Literature Locked Up: Banned Books Week 2019” project; see events related to the initiative; and follow our social channels to get live updates as more events are added to the calendar. You can also listen to a playlist of banned songs assembled by PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection.

Michael Rothenberg and The Ecosound Ensemble live at The Moon – Word of South 2019

I took this photo at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, CA. Michael is the gentleman in the hat and Terri is the lovely woman with the camera. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are cofounders of 100tpc. If you came up in the ’60s and especially if you are a Beat fan, you’ll recognize others in the photograph.

Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. Born inMiami Beach, Florida, Rothenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Afterward, he moved to California in 1976, where he began “Shelldance Orchid Gardens”, an orchid and bromeliad nursery. In 2016, Rothenberg moved to Tallahassee, Florida. In 1993 he received his MA in Poetics at New College of California. In 1989, Rothenberg and artist Nancy Davis began Big Bridge Press, a fine print literary press, publishing works by Jim Harrison, Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and others. Rothenberg is editor of Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry. Rothenberg is also co-editor and co-founder of Jack Magazine.


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SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, a crucial role for poets in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse

“Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse.” MORE, Poetry Foundation



OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, I’m inviting all Facebook friends – and this post is an open invitation – whether you are poets or not – to Like 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change 2018 GLOBAL EVENT. Of course, there’s no obligation to do so, however given the state of the world at this time, it’s important to throw our energy and support behind this effort. It sends out a message to those who . . . 

  • use their power to harm people, culture and environment,
  • to the folks on the run who don’t know we care, and
  • to each other that we are together – have one another – in support of PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Really I think we outnumber the bad guys. We just don’t get the press. We have to make our own. 

FROM MICHAEL ROTHENBERG:

“Do you want to join other poets, musicians, artists, mimes, dancers, photographers, performing artists, clerics, and friends of the arts around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social, environmental, and political change?

“September 29th is the global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, 2018!

“This is our 8th year!

“If you would like to organize an event in your community, join us here and write to us directly to register your event at

Sign up:
http://100tpc.org/sign-up/

– Michael Rothenberg, Co-founder of 100TPC with Terri Carrion


UNIQUE EVENT AS PART OF 100,000 POETS (and friends) for Change 2018, Global

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) / Play) and others are organizing a 100TPC event in Jerusalem during Sukkot this year. Sukkot is a harvest holiday celebrated in temporary structures (a sukkah, singular; sukkot, plural) to commemorate the time when the Jews wandered in the wilderness. It is traditional to eat meals and sleep in the sukkot during the week of the holiday. The plan is to offer poetry, shared food, and comfort in one or more sukkah in Jerusalem in the spirit of peace, justice, and sustainability. More details to come. This year Sukkot ends during the weekend of 100TPC Global, 2018.

Connect with Michael HERE on Facebook for more information if you want to help with and/or attend the Sukkot event. You can also leave a message for Michael Dickel here at The Poet by Day in the comments section below. I’ll make sure he sees it.

Non-Jews living in and near Jerusalem are welcome.

This event in Jerusalem suggests another way to organize around 100TPC, which could be emulated elsewhere. What holy days or feast days are celebrated in your tradition near September 29, 100TPC Global 2018? Or, do as Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) did one year: 100,000 Peacemakers for Change. Egypt did 100,000 Mimes for Change. There have been 100,000 Drummers for Change … and Musicians and Photographers as well. All these registered their events with 100,000 Poets for Change. Our only limits are a lack of energy, imagination and passion, so rev up your engines and let’s do it …

Let’s do it … and, let’s get the word out with Joy! Gratitude! Caring! Sharing!

If you are organizing a registered 100TPC event in your area, I’m happy to include details about your event on The Poet by Day if you send your announcement to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and  California Woman.

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