Friday, May 18, 2007

The Poet's House

Today, I went with Sarah and the rest of the AmeriCorps people to the North Side of Pittsburgh to visit the Chinese poet Huang Xiang. His house on the North Side is called simply "the Poet's House," and anyone who has been in the area knows why. Mr. Xiang has actually covered his wooden house is his poetry, written in Chinese caligraphy with white paint. To meet Mr. Xiang is a great experience. He has a passion for the spoken word that transcends language barriers, and delivers his poetry with such passion. He performed seven poems for us, and each one blew us away.

Perhaps Mr. Xiang's passion is due to the fact that he was exiled from his own country because of his writing. He was frequently imprisoned in China for writing poetry and advocating human rights. In 2004, Mr. Xiang was invited by the Pittsburgh chapter of the City of Asylum organization to begin his residency in Pittsburgh. He and his wife Zhang Ling now live in Pittsburgh as legal refugees.

Can you imagine a place where one cannot even be a poet in his own house? Where people are forced to flee their country in order to express themselves creatively and pursue their passion? Where one must literally leave his or her home to make a home in a new land, just because they want to write? I can't.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

it was so much more than i could have ever expected! i volunteered to coordinate americorps' involvement in the free jazz poetry concert there sept. 9th. want me to sign you up?