Focus: popular Chinese grassroots poets

( ) Updated: 2015-07-03 10:55:51

Focus: popular Chinese grassroots poets

Guo Jinniu, a migrant labourer poet who was invited to the 46th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam. [Photo/]

In many critics' view, some grassroots poets became popular through self-hype and eye catching tags from Chinese media instead of their works. Take Yu Xiuhua for example. She has been devoted to writing "fair" poems since 2003. Never had she expected that her poems would be published until Poetry Periodical, a famous poetry magazine, publicized her poem Crossing Big China to Sleep With you in their E-Subscription on WeChat.

Yu broke through social media on WeChat overnight, and drew media's concern. Some in the media praised her poems, saying they carry real feelings and the power to move hearts. But, unwittingly or otherwise, the main focus seems to be on her physical and social conditions. Some media outlets even used offensive epithets to describe her, such as "a countrywoman who composes poems" and "poetess with cerebral palsy".

Chinese writer Yan Zhen once said in an interview that he could understand the journalists' way of describing Yu. "Though broken in body, she persists in writing poetry. It is great. However, there are tens of thousands of poets who write poems of the same quality in China. Only about her writing ability, I'm sorry to say that there might be nothing to say," he said.

According to Liu Nian, an editor in Poetry Periodical magazine and the scout of Yu Xiuhua, Chinese people drifted apart from real poetry in the 1990s. Instead, they pay the most attention to the economy, money, material life and the trend of the times. In that case, poems with exaggerative or even ridiculous content are easier to catch the reader's eye nowadays.

However, critics like Huo Junming pointed out that it's no need to confirm or negate the popularity of grassroots poets straight away. Instead, people, especially critics, should read these poets' works.

"The better way is to read the poems by grassroots poets seriously first, and then discuss the reason of their sudden popularization. We should evaluate a poet or a cultural phenomenon in the integration of history, literariness and other aspects. Their work is always the most important reference. Throughout history and the world, we can find that no matter what time it is, no matter how vigorous the poetry related events are, the poetry is the only thing that will not be forgotten by the public," Huo said.

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