By translating these poems, we aim to memorialize Xu, share some of his excellent literary work, and spread awareness that the harsh conditions, struggles and aspirations of Chinese migrant workers (including but not limited to Foxconn) have not diminished since the more widely-publicized spate of 18 attempted Foxconn suicides in 2010, resulting in 14 deaths. Insiders report that thereafter, although the frequency of suicides decreased (mainly due to Foxconn’s installation of nets making it more difficult for workers to jump from their dormitories, along with the development of workers’ collective resistance), such suicides have continued to the present. Including Xu Lizhi, at least 8 cases have been reported in the media since 2010, but insiders say that many other cases go unreported. We hope that in the future, workers in Foxconn and elsewhere manage to find ways around such companies’ military-style discipline and surveillance, come together, and forge collective paths out of this capitalist world of death, into a world worth living in. Don’t give up!
On My Deathbed
I want to take another look at the ocean, behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime I want to climb another mountain, try to call back the soul that I’ve lost I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world Everyone who’s heard of me Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving Even less should you sigh or grieve I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.
– Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014