'Lifting,' And Lifted By, Words

Jul 29, 2012
Originally published on August 13, 2012 9:13 am

Poet Ouyang Yu comes to NPR's Poetry Games representing two continents: Asia, where he was born (in China); and Australia, where he moved in 1991. He is a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese.

Of his poem "Lifting," he writes: "Much as I admire weightlifting heroes or heroines, I can't help reminding myself that, however powerful a weightlifter is, he or she can't lift himself or herself up. The magic of the word is that, when well lifted, it has the power to transform."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


And this morning on our program, we're kicking off our own Poetry Games. There were poetry events in the ancient Greek games, and even in the modern games, up until the 1948 London Games. The Olympics actually handed out medals in poetry competitions. Now, in the long tradition of celebrating the lyricism of both the body and the mind, MORNING EDITION has commissioned five poets from different corners of the world, asking each to write a poem about the Olympics and its remarkable athletes. We're asking you to vote at on who should win the gold.


MONTAGNE: Our first entry comes from Ouyang Yu, who's representing two continents in the competition. Born in China, the poet and translator has spent the last two decades in Australia. His brief poem is inspired by the sport of weightlifting.

MARK STAUFER: "Lifting," by Ouyang Yu. (Reading) For years, I have been dreaming of turning writing into a sport in the Olympic Games that is called, tentatively, Wordlifting, in which I'd give my simplest performance by lifting the lightest and the liveliest word, love - till it flies, lifting me, weightless, into a sky of loving eyes.

MONTAGNE: Ouyang Yu's poem, "Lifting," read here by Mark Staufer. Tomorrow, we'll be hearing Mexico's entry into MORNING EDITION's Poetry Games, "Olimpicamente." If you'd like to read all the poems in competition now, just go to There you can also vote on your favorite, and we'll announce the winner next week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.