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  • Chris McMillan

Disabled farmer glides on wings of poetry


20th June 2023

Disabled farmer glides on wings of poetry

Born with cerebral palsy and confined to his bed, Hu Shaojie never attended school. Yet in the world of his own poetry, he could stroll freely on the hills, singing and drinking in the evening breeze.

"Cerebral palsy has deprived the freedom of my body, but I still enjoy spiritual freedom," said the 25-year-old in the Hujiagelao Village of Yulin City in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Using his toes to type on the keyboard, Hu has completed nearly 1,000 poems since he took up writing in December 2018. One of them describes the writer like this:

Lying in the depths of mountains like an ailing tiger,

Along with poems high flies my dream.

In others' eyes I am disabled and haggard,

Taking a draught of wine I feel happy and free.

As a premature child, he experienced severe cerebral palsy, resulting in limited mobility with only one functional leg. He needed help from others to eat or go to the toilet. What was worse, the disease can be life-threatening.

"At some points I cannot breathe," said the man. "It feels like someone is beating your chest with a giant hammer. In the worst case, my heart even stopped."

Hu's father worked outside their hometown, and he lived with his grandparents in a cave house, a kind of earth shelter dwelling typical to the landlocked northwestern China provinces. In his early years, he had few chances to go outside. In his own words, bathing in the sunshine was "a luxury."

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