Golden Age for Poetry

 

Great to see “Golden Age” and contemporary poetry mentioned in the same breath. Just wondering why only “2000 years of tradition” at Chinese poetry’s back. Would have gone for 2500 at the very least.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-03-24/no-one-cares-about-poetry-right-check-out-chinas-vibrant-scene

 

New golden age for Chinese poetry

I heard this story in the car yesterday and found it quite interesting. I think there are probably some list members featured, too.

Andrew Stuckey <andrew.stuckey@colorado.edu>

Source: PRI (3/24/15)
1,200 years later, is Chinese poetry entering a new golden age?
The World in Words
By Alina Simone

Poet Yu Xiuhua lives in her home village in China's Hubei Province. She became an internet sensation with the publication of her poem, "Crossing Half of China to Sleep With You." Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty ImagesPoet Yu Xiuhua lives in her home village in China’s Hubei Province. She became an internet sensation with the publication of her poem, “Crossing Half of China to Sleep With You.” Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

A few weeks ago in Beijing, a dozen well-known poets got together.

Among them was an IT guy who wanted their help testing out a new app for a social network — not based on sharing friends, photos or business contacts, but about sharing poetry. He convinced them to each recite some of their work.

Yibing Huang recorded his poem, “Shoulder to Shoulder We…” into an app called “Poem For You.” According to Yibing, the poets were skeptical. They weren’t “app” kind of guys. Was this really a good venue for poetry, they wondered? But, within minutes of the poets uploading their poems, he says, “there were hundreds of people ‘liking’ them and writing comments.”

Poets Gao Xing, Xiao Xiao and Yibing Huang at the "Poem For You" recording session in Beijing.  Credit: Courtesy Yibing HuangPoets Gao Xing, Xiao Xiao and Yibing Huang at the “Poem For You” recording session in Beijing. Credit: Courtesy Yibing Huang

Hundreds of ‘likes’ within minutes. In the US, where poetry can feel like the exclusive domain of MFA grads and disaffected teens, I would never say to someone, “If you really want to understand America, read some modern poetry.” But in today’s China, where it seems like everyone is writing poetry, that might be just the thing to do.

“Maybe you hear a poet like Zheng Xiaoqiong, who’s going to read a poem she wrote when she was a migrant worker in Southern China,” says Jonathan Stalling, editor of Chinese Literature Today, of the scene at a typical reading. “She’ll be talking about the vulnerable bodies of her co-workers, dancing like dust in the afternoon sun, reflecting off the machinery on the factory floor. The next poet could be Luo Ying, the pen name of Huang Nubo, who’s one of the most wealthy men in China and writes poetry from the point of view of a capitalist.”

As in other spheres, the Internet has proven a huge democratizing force in the world of Chinese poetry, leveling the playing field for migrant workers and millionaires alike. But love of verse was already there. Chinese poetry has 2,000 years of tradition at its back. Parents read it to their babies. Kids study it in school. But the thing is, most Chinese believe poetry peaked in the Tang Dynasty. That ended more than 1100 years ago. So for today’s poets, their chosen art form’s exalted status can feel like a double-edged sword.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, new poetry is dead in China,’” poet Ming Di says. She loves the ancient poets, but feels the strict classical forms they pioneered tended to dead end after, you know, a few hundred years.

“Poets in the Tang Dynasty already did their best. And we in 21st Century have to do something new — either we bring something new to the old form or go our own way.”

And they are. Modern Chinese poets are exploring radical new terrain when it comes to form, sentence structure, and perhaps most importantly, subject matter. At the far end of this spectrum, according to professor Heather Inwood, is the “School of Rubbish.” (Although, she says, “you can also translate it as the ‘Trash School,’ or something like that.”)

Poets Mo Mo and Yu Jian reveal a commemorative plaque at the the First Lushan New Century Famous Poets Summit. Credit: Heather InwoodPoets Mo Mo and Yu Jian reveal a commemorative plaque at the the First Lushan New Century Famous Poets Summit. Credit: Heather Inwood

Inwood teaches Chinese cultural studies at the University of Manchester in England and is the author of “Verse Going Viral,” a book about China’s new media scenes. “The ‘School of Rubbish’ became famous for writing poems about, basically, bodily excretions,” she explains. “Their goal was to go one meter lower than the ‘lower body’ — that was the name of an earlier poetry group around the turn of the millennium that wrote about sex. So they were thinking, ‘If we can’t write about sex because that’s already been done, what can we write about that will open people’s eyes to new ways of thinking about poetry?’”

And the answer was: Poems with a toilet theme. Of course, not everyone is convinced this is a hallmark of literary progress.

“People have argued … modern or contemporary Chinese poetry has not completely found its own legitimacy,” says Yibing Huang. “Some people say, ‘Is this a poem?’ You know, ‘This morning, I woke up. I drank a cup of coffee… Life sucks.’ People say that’s not a poem because it doesn’t rhyme. It doesn’t fit a certain expectation.”

Yet, social media may be turning the tide. This past January, WeChat, a messaging and social networking app, produced an unlikely media darling whose poems don’t rhyme and don’t avoid the fact that, yeah, sometimes life sucks. Yu Xiuhua had two books come out in one week and sell out overnight — 15,000 copies.

In addition to being a poet, Yu is also a farmer from a rural village who was born with cerebral palsy. As Ming Di points out, “Some people even consider her [to be the] Emily Dickinson in China.’”

Ming has translated some of Yu Xiuhua’s poetry, including her most famous poem, “Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You.”

To spend or to be spent, what’s the difference if there is any?
Two bodies collide — the force, the flower opened by the force,
and the virtual Spring brought by the flower — nothing more than this,
and this we mistake as life restarting.
In half of China, things are happening: volcanoes
erupt, rivers run dry,
political prisoners and displaced workers are abandoned,
elk deer and red-crowned cranes get shot.
I cross the hail of bullets to sleep with you.
I press many nights into one morning to sleep with you.
I run across many of me and many of me run into one to sleep with you.
Of course I can be misguided by butterflies
and mistake praise as Spring,
and a village similar to Hengdian as home.
But all these are absolute
reasons that I spend a night with you.

Shi Zhongren recites his poetry at the Zhu Gangzi peach blossom poetry meeting in a Beijing suburb. Credit: Heather InwoodShi Zhongren recites his poetry at the Zhu Gangzi peach blossom poetry meeting in a Beijing suburb. Credit: Heather Inwood

It’s hard not to feel good about social networks like WeChat if they can launch a woman like Yu Xiuhua into literary celebrity. And WeChat recently debuted a new program where every evening at 10pm it publishes a poem read by a “daily guest,” including luminaries like China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan. WeChat’s goal for the project is to help people “develop a deeper understanding of life.” Hard to imagine Twitter doing that.

Recently a popular Beijing anchor read “Shoulder to Shoulder We…” one of Yibing Huang’s poems on WeChat. Yibing is thrilled about the exposure the Internet brings him. But what is this all this doing to Chinese poetry?

“In a way I would say there is a danger in contemporary Chinese poetry,” Yibing says. “There is a kind of intellectual laziness. Taking poetry more for its entertainment value or eyeball effect.”

Social media has ensured there’s a lot more poetry out there, but Yibing argues it also makes the good stuff harder to find. How many microblog posts do you really want to scroll through to get your poetic fix? True that, but I wonder if purists are also miffed because they believe poetry is supposed be difficult — and a little out of reach. For this crowd, clickability has taken away some of poetry’s luster, and that’s unlikely to change. But as a vehicle for enjoyment, poetry has always been more unicycle than bullet train. Even the simplest poem requires a lot more of us than settling back to watch a movie.

The Internet isn’t going to kill poetry, people deciding it’s not worth that effort will. And that doesn’t seem likely to happen in China anytime soon.

Lisbon 2015 – Symposium: “Chineseness” in Contemporary Art Discourse and Practice (Day 4)

paulmanfredi:

‘International Research Network for Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art’ sounds like a great idea. I’m intrigued by mention of Gladston’s mention of a “closed network,” something which is closed by necessity, or choice? I can see some benefit of the the latter (selectivity leads to higher quality), but in this context perhaps open is preferable.

Originally posted on Rachel Marsden's Words:

The final day of the ‘”Chineseness” in Contemporary Art Discourse and Practice’ symposium but not my final day in Lisbon…that’s actually today, Friday…the end of my literally worldwide research travels from Dubai to Sharjah to Hong Kong to Lisbon. So many more blog posts to come! If you missed reading the write-ups of days 1 to 3, take a look through the link here. Before I jump into the account, I just wanted to say thank you to all those involved in the symposium…from the organisers, to the delegates, to the audience members…it has been great to talk about a subject that is important to so many of us, reaffirming as such…and for 4 days, something that doesn’t happen very often as we all have such busy work-home lives. To new and old friends and colleagues…see you very soon, no doubt in another random corner of the world. I’m already looking…

View original 2,369 more words

21st Century Chinese Poetry

21st Century Chinese Poetry
THESE ARE UNUSUAL TIMES. THESE POETS ARE TALE-TELLERS OF THEIR WORLD. THEIR POEMS ARE FOR REAL PEOPLE.
  • I'm waiting in the land of poetry. Waiting in hope for its clanging sounds and forceful roaring past! -Ren Xianqing, Issue 1

THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF

21st Century Chinese Poetry was founded with the intention of introducing modern Chinese poetry to readers worldwide.

Modern Chinese poetry was born from the broader intellectual movement that took place in China around 1917-1921, known as the May-Fourth Movement; for the first time in history, vernacular Chinese was accepted as a legitimate poetic voice. This poetic movement hasn’t stopped evolving since then but only accelerated recently because of the easy exchange of styles and ideas over cyberspace. This is an eye-opening, exciting and even confounding experience for both the poets and the readers.

The editor-and-translator team of 21st Century Chinese Poetry selects some of the best poems written in Chinese by today’s poets from all geographic areas.

POEM FOR THE DAY

Spring Comes to Tai’erzhuang

    • by Li Yun
    • Tai’erzhuang, Tai’erzhuang, yesterday you saw war,
    • this morning you saw spring.
    • You see, the crabapple trees in Mr. Wan’s courtyards
    • are now blooming, white inside, a touch of pink,
    • a serene field of sweet scents and charm.
    • Sweet scents and charm, no end of it, Ah!
    • I am not at all detached from this.
    • Last night I came by to deliver the stars for you.
    • This morning I stayed because of a flowering tree.
    • Tai’erzhuang, Tai’erzhuang, right now,
    • right here, with you, I sing the splendor of spring.
    • War, Peace,
    • Peace, War,
    • they have made me a different person.
    • Tai’er Village, while these blossoms
    • dance around you.
    • I must bear an old sorrow,
    • congealed inside here,
    • congealed within the memory.
    • Oh, Tai’erzhuang, I am not a flower witch,
    • but a woman warrior, born here, now bleeding for you.
    • I hear a low chant in the revolving light,
    • Om-mani-pad-me-hum.
    • A little monk will be coming to knock on my soul.

Poetic Survivors (诗意的幸存者) exhibition

We Are Ourselves History 我们自己就是历史 

the “poetic survivors”

POET-ARTISTS at it again.

Laying vigorous claim to the hopelessly untranslatable  诗意 (“poeticalness”?–or shall we just say ‘poetic’), the poets of the Misty generation, led again by Yan Li and friends, are taking the stage as “painter-poets,” full of nostalgia for the days of old (26 years, to be precise), but also with an eye to the future of Chinese painting and poetry. In this forward-looking respect I find the most promise for such endeavors, a slow moving “movement,” to be sure, but the conjoined media endeavor of painting (and photography) and poetry have two things going for it: a robust tradition and unfadable modernity, the latter residing in the former, curiously enough.

This exhibition, title The Poetic Survivors 诗意的幸存者 , is on a larger scale than many iterations past, with some new members in the line-up. In particular is the calligraphy of Tang Xiaodu 唐晓渡, long-time critic and cultural figure whose visual art I had never seen before this collection emerged. Also notable is the preface to the exhibition written by Yang Lian, who is not often so closely engaged with goings-on inside China. The funding will carry this exhibition through numerous cities over the next 12 months, among them and besides Shanghai where the operation kicked off in November, will be Beijing, Shenyang, and Dalian.

The seven-person lineup this time rather different from previous “Poets Group” (诗派) of painters, with only Mang Ke 芒克, and Yan Li 严力 the constant members. They are here joined by Tang Xiaodu 唐晓渡, as mentioned, but also You You 友友, Guo Changhong 郭长虹, Li Li 李笠 and  Jie Wei 解危.

 

As to the contents, the photographic images by Li Li, are surely arresting. For instance:

 

Li Li photo

Morning Mirror 晨镜

 

 

and:

 

Li Li Photo

Coming Home #1 回家之一

 

 

But nonetheless I’m most impressed by Mang Ke’s painting, which evolves in slow but also deliberate and oddly self-assured steps. The earlier work was completely abstract, seeming landscapes with only faint hints of representation such as:

Mang Ke

2013-18 98x78cm


Gradually, the landscapes acquire more acute dimensionality, and often water banks, hills and other discernable features of the phenomenal world. In this case, a bank of trees by the water:

 

Mang Ke

2014-15 118x75cm

 

 

Nonetheless, Mang’s titles are still rigorously abstract: “2014-15″. The words he reserves for poetic work, which is not represented anywhere in this particular volume.

Chinese reporting on the exhibition below:

 

 

http://culture.ifeng.com/a/20141216/42730221_0.shtml

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凤凰网文化讯 2014年12月14日下午2时,“诗意的幸存者”–中国当代诗人“视觉艺术展”,在位于上海浦东三林老街的中道(上海)艺术馆启幕。

此次巡展由作家高晖担任总策展人,诗人杨炼为艺术总监,并由上海德重文化艺术有限公司、辽宁衡德投资公司联袂主办。上海站策展人由江旭担纲。参展人有中国朦胧诗的代表人物芒克、唐晓渡、严力,有作家兼画家友友、诗人摄影家李笠,还有诗人学者郭长虹、诗人画家解危等七人组成。

除上述参展诗人艺术家外,还有文学批评家、诗歌批评家、美术批评家、诗人、画家、上海各界代表及瑞典国驻上海总领事馆官员等共计110余人参加了此次活动。

著名诗歌评论家唐晓渡现场发言

策展人高晖说,此次展出的诗人视觉艺术品,关乎诗人个人心灵史也就是1980年代中国朦胧诗歌史的补充和延续。从这些视觉艺术作品里,总能看到那种灵动、奇异而温暖的东西,这种东西就是我们常说的诗意。当下,中国专业书画界乱象丛生,恢复中国视觉艺术作品精神本体性成为当务之急,呼唤心灵参加创作,其实,一个创作者的油彩、笔墨、线条、焦点,就是自身内在生命状态的透析。谁能与心灵一并还乡、谁愿意和历史一起成长、谁能拥有绵长的诗意,谁就是当然的“诗意幸存者”。

启幕仪式结束后,接续举行了“诗意的幸存者”–当代中国诗人视觉艺术研讨会暨诗歌朗诵会和中国当代诗人艺术档案馆(南馆)揭牌仪式。参展诗人纷纷登台朗读自己的代表诗作,场面感人。观众杨昕佳对记者说,我非常感动,这样的场面充满正能量,使我感觉又回到了1980年代。在研讨会上,与会的诗人艺术家、美术批评家,就此次巡展的诗歌与视觉艺术的关系、视觉艺术的精神出处、诗意在视觉艺术作品里的正确表达特别是此次巡展目的、意义、持续方式等方面进行了深入研讨。

诗人芒克与杨炼共同揭幕

最后,中国当代诗人艺术档案馆(南馆筹备处)由诗人芒克揭牌。该馆的建立,将成为保存中国当代朦胧诗歌史的现有文献的重要载体,将切实推进这段历史文献的搜集、整理及后续研究工作,为幸存的诗意提供一个“恒温箱”。策展人高晖认为,诗意总会被筛选而成为时代的精神高度,当我们丈量一部文学史的时候,其实主要是在翻拣那些诗意元素。这些视觉艺术作品,对于诗人个体而言,完全是诗歌的另外一种写法,而且几乎就是一首长诗的容量。

据了解,巡展启动后将开始不定期接续巡展,从明年3月上旬离开上海,将在北京、沈阳、大连、重庆、成都、济南、江西等地巡展。最后,相关作品和档案将分别保存中国当代诗人艺术档案馆的上海馆和沈阳馆。

美术批评家杨卫认为,此次巡展本身就是2014年的一个标志性文化事件。这次巡展,是中国当代诗人视觉艺术作品的首次集体亮相,充满着诗人艺术家对历史、人生、艺术的立体式反思与回顾,其本身就是一首不同寻常的“小长诗”。此次巡展将推动中国视觉艺术精神本体性的凸显,重新厘清视觉艺术创作者与自身内在生命状态的联系方式,进而指向其整体精神特质,从而拓宽当代文人视觉艺术作品的内含和外延。

杨炼撰写画展序言《诗意的幸存者》:

中国文人画,自元代始,其思想、美学特征,质言之,一曰民间性,汉族文人离弃对官方权力的依赖,由被迫而主动地深入民间生存处境,使艺术内涵愈加饱满。二曰文化性,汉文化的深厚资源,经由文人独立思考和重构,不仅没沦为粗疏,反而激发出超强能量,形成无数风骨、神采兼备的美学杰作。这民间、文化二元互补,彼此印证,转型至今,便是本人那句“独立思考为体,古今中外为用”。以此为根,我们的人生和创作,从未离开这个真传统、活传统。

上世纪八十年代初,华夏长梦初醒,“朦胧诗”并不朦胧,写诗爱诗若不知芒克、唐晓渡、严力诸君大名,简直不可思议。在京都,友友和我,出入诗人聚会,何止诗作青春四射?诗人和女友也个个英俊倜傥、美艳夺目。小字辈李笠本来就是帅哥,而那时尚未结识的郭长虹、解危,想来也均在他处驰骋。1988年“幸存者”诗人俱乐部,被同住北京劲松的芒克、晓渡和我们催生而出,一册油印诗刊、一百元外汇卷“巨款”赞助,掀起余震不断的社会海啸。那时我们谁能想到,二十六年后,会戴着另一圈迥然不同的画家光环,聚会到一起?二十六年啊,时间空间,如我们一样成了鬼魂,轮回在认不出的地方。中国,只剩几个老地名。“全球”,转眼扎进这土地每个角落。芒克诗题“今天是哪一天?”我出国前写过:“这儿是哪儿多远?”美貌不再,沧桑已至。我们自己就是历史。

但,多远?是否该改成:多近?潜入一行诗、一张画中的文人精神传统那么近!我们每个人的人生、历史、思想、艺术,本身就是一首小长诗。年轮兑换成了思想,而挑战威权话语的个性诗意不变。词语转型为笔墨、影像,而每一点、每条线、每一像素中蕴含的经典性,已如另一诗律,加入我们的艺术自律。一个姿态,与文化对决;而一种目标,却始终在创建文化。铆定的方向是:空话免谈,自我的深度必须印证于作品的深度。芒克的油画率性浓烈、晓渡的书札原生元气、严力的笔触优雅灵慧、友友的彩墨野艳奇崛、李笠的摄影自成玄学、长虹的心景嶙峋灵秀、解危的构图瑰异清冷。这里,万变不离其宗的,是每个艺术家创作中不断滋长的诗意。那原创的艺术属性,横溢的才华气质,永远比庞然大物的“过去”更大。民间性和文化性,铸成当代中国艺术的先天基因,由此幻化出我们种种艺术个性。为什么要否认?中国新视觉艺术,一定是还原了思想本义的新文人画:自觉承续、拓展那个贯穿千载的“雅艺术”精神传统——拒斥以任何方式流于空、俗、糙、贱,无论它们凭籍权力、市场的压力,或假借民众口味的名义。

正因为饱经沧桑,艺术才俊美永存。谁与心灵一并还乡、谁和历史一起成长,谁就是“幸存者”。我们生命的诗意,已将自己缔造成一个当代传统,并汇入了那个涵括一切时空的深邃无垠的传统中。

Pan Gongkai now on at the Frye Museum

 

images from

 Withered Lotus Cast in Iron

 


20150103_115043_8_bestshot 20150103_115103_4_bestshot 20150103_115909_7_bestshot 20150103_120235_1_bestshot 20150103_120257_1_bestshotWithered Lotus Cast in Iron

Pan Gongkai, former president of China Academy of Art (Zhongguo meishu xueyuan) and, more recently, president of China Central Academy of Fine Arts (Zhongyang meishu xueyuan), namely, the two major art institutions in China, is having his first museum show in the United States at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle (through January 18).

Pan is the son of Pan Tianshou, one of the titans of twentieth-century art in China, and himself former head of the China Academy of Art, in fact a leader of that institution through its many iterations. The sheer tempestuousness of that experience in China’s modern history impacted the elder Pan severely, bringing about his untimely death during the Cultural Revolution. Pan Gongkai’s commitment, in other words, to a neoclassical medium and style of large-scale semi-abstract lotus flowers (come landscapes) has been forged out of rather bitter experience on a personal level.

This can be seen in the painting even without benefit of Jo-Ann Birnie Danzker’s excellent if short catalogue that accompanies the show.

Though this is Pan’s first museum show, versions of his work have been on display in the US recently, most recently in an exhibition entitled Melt in September courtesy of the Confucius Institute at University of Michigan:

Pan Gongkai: Melt (潘公凯:融)

 

That project in turn derives from Pan’s 2011 installation in the China Pavilion at the Venice Biennale: