Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and Politics of China's Democracy Movement

Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and Politics of China's Democracy Movement

Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and Politics of China's Democracy Movement

Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and Politics of China's Democracy Movement

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to present an anthology of poetry from Beijing's Democracy Movement during the winter of 1978/9, and in doing so to sketch the development of the movement from November 1978 to April 1979. China's other voices are rarely heard in the West, and China's other poets still more rarely. However, the first five months, from the Democracy Movement's emergence in late November 1978 to the regime's first real attempt at a clampdown in late March, early April 1979, have provided plenty of opportunities to find, read and hear uncensored poetry -- the Beijing Street Voices of the title. Not that all the poetry presented here is 'great' poetry by anybody's standard. On the contrary, it is very much poetry of the moment, and selection has been biased towards providing a representative sample of the poetry, politics and publications of Beijing's Democracy Movement. Thus at least one poem has been selected from each of the major publications to appear during those five months.

The poems selected for inclusion in this volume are all taken from the unofficial publications of the Democracy Movement in Beijing during November 1978 to May 1979, and have been translated by Lynda Bell, Susette Cooke, Ian Honeysett, Christina Jansen, Ian Lea, Alistair McBain, Jana Verunařová and myself. In translating from the Chinese, an attempt has been made to translate each poem as a poem -- to capture both the emotional and literal levels of meaning, if and when necessary, when and where possible. As a result some of the poems have been quite freely translated. Rhyme and meter in Chinese (which are far more common than in English and essential features of traditional poetry) have not always been reproduced in the English version. On the other hand, rhyme or meter have sometimes been added or adapted to produce an English equivalent of the Chinese. Thus, for example, the satirical epithets of 'Animal Crackers' (p. 21) which contain no rhyme or meter in Chinese, have been reproduced in . . .

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