Pittsburgh, PA — March 26, 2013: City of Asylum/Pittsburgh will present Exiled Voices of China and Tibet, a day-long series of readings, conversations and performances featuring human rights activists and exiled writers and musicians, on Saturday, June 8, 2013. All events are free.
The event, which is the largest gathering of exiled Chinese and Tibetan writers and musicians this year, will feature Independent Chinese PEN Center President Tienchi Martin Liao, author Liao Yiwu (author The Corpse Walker: Real-Life Stories of China from the Bottom Up) and human rights activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng. Hosts and moderators include New York Times Beijing correspondent Andrew Jacobs and Pittsburgh World Affairs Council President and CEO Steven E. Sokol. The culminating event will be a free concert, “Rock and Rap for Freedom,” with exiled Tibetan rockers Melong Band, dissident Chinese poet Huang Xiang — who was City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s first exiled writer-in-residence —and Pittsburgh hip-hop artist Jasiri X.
Co-founder and President of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh Henry Reese stated, “This is the first time that so many exiled artists will appear together. These are towering figures: Chen Guangcheng, Huang Xiang, and Liao Yiwu each suffered imprisonment as well as censorship in China; at great personal cost, Tienchi Martin-Liao has dedicated her life to advocating human rights there. For several of them, Exiled Voices will be a reunion, the first time they have re-connected in exile; others have never met. We’re very proud to bring them all to Pittsburgh.”
Andrew Jacobs, a correspondent in the New York Times’ Beijing bureau since 2008, covered Chen Guangcheng’s detention and eventual escape for the paper; he said, “I am very excited to come to Pittsburgh for this event, which represents a unique opportunity to explore and celebrate the exercise of free speech. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh has assembled a group of extraordinary individuals who have struggled to freely express themselves while living under an authoritarian system that deals harshly with those who criticize the ruling Communist Party.”
Each of the events over the course of the day will be interactive, offering opportunities for audience questions and participation. Steven E. Sokol, president of the World Affairs Council, noted, “City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s Exiled Voices gives us a chance to look at contemporary China from a variety of vantage points and deepen our understanding of the challenges that face China’s people and its government in times of change.” He added that he is looking forward to participating in the discussion on June 8, and to hearing the questions, concerns, and dialogue that emerge from it. He said that “this is a unique opportunity for dialogue.”
Reese observed, “In addition to the readings and conversations that day, the concert is going to be extraordinary. Melong is the only Tibetan rock band in the world, and like Bruce Springsteen they make politically-oriented rock in order to be a voice for the voiceless. Jasiri X’s work, which is so original and compelling, is grounded in social activism. And we’re thrilled that Huang Xiang will be returning and adding his inimitable, dramatic delivery to the mix. These artists will be performing both separately and together, in what will be a unique collaborative ode to freedom.”
All events are free and open to the public; seats can be reserved for each program online until 1 PM on June 7 – a convenient all-day pass is also available until that time. The events will be held in City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s tent on Monterey Street between Jacksonia Street and Sampsonia Way, from 1:00 p.m. until 10 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – Tienchi Martin-Liao, President of Independent Chinese PEN, in conversation with Dr. Steven E. Sokol, President and CEO, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.
2:15 p.m. – Reading and performance by author, poet and musician Liao Yiwu, and conversation led by 90.5-fm WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer.
3:30 p.m. – Activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng and New York Times correspondent correspondent Andrew Jacobs
4:45 p.m. – New York Times correspondent Andrew Jacobs: “What Americans do and don’t understand about China.”
5:15 p.m. – An Illegal Conversation – with Tienchi Martin-Liao, Liao Yiwu and Chen Guangcheng.
8:00 p.m. – Rock and Rap for Freedom – a concert featuring Jasiri X, Melong Band and special guest Huang Xiang.
Time and content of events subject to change.
Times and location are subject to change. For updates, visit cityofasylumpittsburgh.org/events/exiled-voices-june-8/.
Founded in 2004, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh fosters freedom of expression, social justice and community development through our writer residencies, publications, and literary programs. From our home on Pittsburgh’s Northside, City of Asylum’s programs and activities impact people on our street, in our city, and around the world. We publish Sampsonia Way magazine: the online journal of free speech, literature and justice, it serves a growing global community online. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh is a model for arts-based community development, bringing writers, readers and neighbors together through literature and cultural exchange.