As a writer, the most important thing for me is to continue to write, no matter where I am.
Freedom is nothing but the distance between the hunter and the hunted.
Being a poet in the States is quite different from being one in China, because in the States poetry depends on the universities for its support. They finance the poets and help them get published. That isn’t so in China. But overall it is the same. You can’t change society with poetry.
In the world I amAlways a strangerI do not understand its languageIt does not understand my silence
Perhaps the final hour is come I have left no testament Only a pen, for my mother I am no hero in an age without heroes I just want to be a man.
The name Bei Dao was actually given to me with the help of friends. When we were publishing our unofficial magazine, Today, we wanted to avoid being harassed by the police so we were trying to think of names that we could use. It was done very casually.
Bei Dao became the most well-known name for me because of certain criticism of my work. Bei Dao was the name under which my work was criticized. So I became more well-known under Bei Dao than under the other names.
Writing is the thing that sustains me and keeps me going. It is a form of self-preservation for me.
On the one hand poetry is useless. It can’t change the world materially. On the other hand it is a basic part of human existence. It came into the world when humans did. It’s what makes human beings human.
I don’t think of writing my poems for China or for the world. I mainly think of a small audience of friends and people I know. I am writing for that small group. They are not necessarily going to be able to read it, but that’s what I have in mind when I write.