Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Poetry and the Real World: Class and Contemporary Chinese Poetry

Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Poetry and the Real World: Class and Contemporary Chinese Poetry

Article excerpt

When touring China's urban landscapes, it is difficult not to notice the exponential growth of new high-rise office buildings, condominiums, and factories; only slightly less conspicuous are the armies of migrant construction workers and factory laborers ceaselessly toiling in their shadows. China is in the throes of the largest mass migration of people in history, with an estimated 230 million rural Chinese having already migrated to the cities in recent years to fuel the cheap labor markets of China's booming economy. With an additional 13 million new migrants making the trek into the cities in search of work every year, the unprecedented number will likely continue to rise as long as there is work to be found. These scenes of mass human migration and hardship have reopened debates about poetry's role in society, or more specifically, the relationship between aesthetics and politics. During the Opening Up and Reform period in the late-1970s and '80s, poets not only engaged in more formally and aesthetically innovative work, but many rekindled a closer relationship with Western poetry trends. …

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