Moving words in print

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-02 08:17
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Visitors read books at the recent Beijing Book Fair held from Feb 24-26. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

This style of writing, emerging in the late 1970s and the beginning of the '80s and represented by figures including Gu Cheng (1956-93) and Shu Ting, was once perceived as obscure, but now stands as an important school of contemporary poetry.

Since the 1990s, the rise of "campus folk" cultivated another group of poets, such as the late singer and songwriter Shen Qing, who transcribed their youthfulness and literary talent through the guitar.

These works emphasized the poetic images chosen to present current tastes of life, and highlighted the self-awareness of the writers, Xiang adds.

However, from his perspective, the poems of young people today are colloquial, direct and empirical. Without the extra philosophical expressions or rendering of images, they may not necessarily look like art, but describe personal experiences and status with sincerity, and avoid rigidifying the Chinese language.

One example is At Work: "I'm sitting at the office. Boss is sitting at the office. I don't know what the boss is doing, and they don't know what I'm doing."

The value is that these poems "sensitize" daily experiences and arouse people to observe and be alert, Xiang says.

"OK. Fine. I know. Ha, funny."

This one titled Perfunctoriness draws the readers' attention to a kind of stylized, smooth but empty exchange commonly seen today, by pointing to an objective statement of existing relations, without involving feelings, judgment or a reflection upon them.

According to staff from Bilibili, it was after Dai Jianye, an ancient Chinese literature professor at the Central China Normal University in Wuhan, Hubei province, uploaded an online course interpreting poems from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties in 2020 that a large group of users started to post their own creations in his comment section.

Dai's followers were seeking comments and suggestions from the professor about their original pieces. The 67-year-old now has more than 3.6 million followers on the video site.

Internet influencers known for interpreting or chanting literature, including Youshan Xiansheng and "The Naive and Sentimental Novelist", both with over 1 million fans, joined later to introduce the phenomenon and proffer their own thoughts about the creations in their posts, meanwhile calling for more submissions.

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