Twentieth-Century Chinese Women's Poetry: An Anthology

Twentieth-Century Chinese Women's Poetry: An Anthology

Twentieth-Century Chinese Women's Poetry: An Anthology

Twentieth-Century Chinese Women's Poetry: An Anthology

Synopsis

Chinese women's writing is rich and abundant, although not well known in the West. Despite the brutal wars and political upheavals that ravaged twentieth-century China, the ranks of women in the literary world increased dramatically. This anthology introduces English language readers to a comprehensive selection of Chinese women poets from both the mainland and Taiwan. It spans the early 1920s and the era of Republican China's literary renaissance through the end of the twentieth century. The collection includes 245 poems by forty poets in elegant English translations, as well as an extensive introduction that surveys the history of contemporary Chinese women's poetry. Brief biographical head notes introduce each poet, from Bin Xin, China's preeminent woman poet in the early Republican period, to Rongzi, a leading poet of modern Taiwan. The selections are startling, moving, and wide-ranging in mood and tone. Together they present an enticing palette of delightful, elegant, playful, lyric, and tragic poetry.

Excerpt

In 1979, when I was preparing a paper on contemporary Chinese women’s poetry to be presented at the international Conference on Women and Literature in China, I became aware that too little is known about women’s poetry in China, especially in the modern period. I decided then to compile an anthology of this much-neglected body of work. The one anthology of Chinese women’s poetry available to Western readers, Women Poets of China, translated by Zhong Ling and Kenneth Rexroth, was published in 1972, more than three decades ago. It concentrates overwhelmingly on traditional, pre-twentieth-century women poets. I was pleased that in recent decades more women poets were included in a few excellent anthologies of modern Chinese poetry. Nevertheless, there is still no comprehensive anthology devoted solely to modern Chinese women’s poetry, including both Mainland China and Taiwan, available in the West.

In 1985 and 1988, with separate research grants from Ohio University, I made two trips to Mainland China, one including a visit to Taiwan, to collect material and interview women poets. Through the kindness and help of the Chinese Writers Association in Mainland China I met with many women poets there, including such veteran poets such as Bing Xin, Chen Jingron, Zheng Min, and younger poets such as Shu Ting, Zhang Ye, Mei Shaojing, and Li Xiaoyu. In Taiwan, through the help of my friend the poet Rong Zi, I met with a number of poets in Taipei. Those I was unable to meet I contacted by mail after my return to the United States. All of them were extremely helpful in sending me their poems, some not yet published at the time. Many also provided me with material for my compilation of their biographies. Poets such as Rong Zi, Ling Yu, Lin Ling, Li Xiaoyu, and Zhong Ling have generously offered me all kinds of assistance during the different stages of my project. Several poets, including Zheng Min, Xia Yu, Hu Pingqing. Lan Ling, and Wang Yu, have kindly gone over my translations of their works with meticulous care. To all of them I am profoundly indebted.

My project was temporarily set aside in 1987 when I was asked by . . .

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