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
  • Now we are on board, let's not bring up any depressing topics; no more debates about the pet peeves in those capitalist countries.

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

A Pair of Chopsticks

  • by Zhang Shaobao

  • In my childhood, my immaculate mother
  • would set wooden chopsticks, a pair for each,
  • around the table, where hot steams were rising
  • from a coarse meal. That was the simple happiness
  • in a farmer’s home.

  • My sister got married, leaving
  • one fewer pair of chopsticks on the table.

  • Later I took a wife, and
  • chopsticks were added, a pair more.

  • The way chopsticks were set around a table
  • stood for the everyday bliss
  • for a family.

  • Now, Mother has passed on;
  • a pair of chopsticks have been removed.

  • The happiness around the dining table
  • is now something from the past.
  • Nowadays the siblings are like
  • branches of an old tree growing apart.
  • Lonely chopsticks are set
  • a world’s distance apart.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 1