Distributed December 29, 1999
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Tracie Sweeney

Dissident Chinese poet Xue Di receives grant to continue work at Brown

Xue Di, a dissident Chinese poet who came to Brown University in 1989 shortly after the violence in Tiananmen Square, has received a two-year $40,000 grant from the Joukowsky Foundation. The grant will support him as he completes work on a new book of poetry.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Chinese dissident poet Xue Di [zhway dee] has received a two-year $40,000 grant from the Joukowsky Foundation. The grant will allow him to remain at Brown University and complete his next volume of verse, tentatively titled Parallel Deep. The poems will deal with the cultural, political and historical development of China.

Xue Di was one of three dissident Chinese writers who arrived at Brown in December 1989 as part of the University’s “Freedom to Write” program. That program, designed to celebrate the spirit of free expression that characterized the Democracy Movement in China, was announced by former Brown President Vartan Gregorian shortly after the Chinese government’s violent suppression of student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The three became writing fellows in the Graduate Writing Program in January 1990; Xue Di stayed on in Providence and now works in the English department at Brown.

Xue Di has been a prolific poet since he began his writing career in the 1980s. Three volumes of his collected works published in Chinese were stopped in press in the summer of 1999 due to the censorship of contemporary literature in mainland China. His publications in English translation include Heart into Soil (1998) and Flames (1995), a cycle of poems dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh. During the 1989 Democracy Movement, he organized writers and poets into support groups for the Tiananmen students’ hunger strike by personally calling on other members of the writers association to request their presence in the demonstrations. The writers association and an ad hoc group calling itself the Beijing Poets marched in support daily between May 17 and 19, immediately before martial law was declared.