Tonight: Experience the energy of Huang Xiang's poetry

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Described by the Poetry Foundation as "China's Walt Whitman," a multi-nominee for the Nobel Prize in literature will perform his work at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill tonight.

Huang Xiang, 70, will perform 12 poems in Chinese, and his work will also be read in English by members of the local community. William Rock of Shaler, who has collaborated with the poet, will introduce the performance.

"[Huang Xiang] actually becomes the poem in itself," Mr. Rock said. "He performs it in Chinese, but you don't have to understand Chinese to appreciate the experience. You feel the energy change in the room."

Mr. Rock, 52, has worked with the poet since they met seven years ago. The two artists currently collaborate on the Century Mountain Project, which displays the poet's fluid Chinese calligraphy as he writes his poems on the surface of Mr. Rock's painted portraits.

The Chinese government denied Mr. Huang a formal education after age 9, Mr. Rock said, and he is entirely self-taught. The poet spent 12 years in prison and was on death row in China for his poetry and human rights advocacy. He has lived in the United States since he sought asylum here in 1997.

"His story is an incredible story of survival, of creativity, of poetry, of human rights and democracy," Mr. Rock said.

Mr. Huang will perform tonight at 6 at the Carnegie Library in Squirrel Hill, 5801 Forbes Ave. He will also appear Thursday at the Shaler North Hills Library at 7 p.m.

"If you haven't seen him, you won't soon forget [this performance]," Mr. Rock said.

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Megan Doyle; or 412-263-1953. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to:


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