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 journal of

21st Century Chinese Poetry 《廿一世纪中国诗歌》is an independent journal committed to showcasing the best of contemporary Chinese poetry. We exist to discover and celebrate poetry and the Chinese poets who write them with the largest possible Anglophone audience.

In the early twentieth century, The May Fourth Movement (1917-1921) launched an era where vernacular Chinese was for the first time accepted as a legitimate poetic voice. This was followed by an outpouring of verse written in 'plain speech' by people from all walks of life in contrast to the classical, elitist poetic forms of imperial China.

A century has now passed since these 'new' poetic voices emerged. Vernacular poetry has continued to blossom in poetry journals and in cyberspace.

The editor and translators at 21st Century Chinese Poetry are committed to translating poets from across China who would otherwise remain virtually unknown to Western audiences.

Please send all enquiries, suggestions and corrections regarding 21st Century Chinese Poetry to Meifu Wang at:

Founder and Editor
Meifu Wang


We are happy to continue our partnership with China's Poetry Journal (诗刊), a bi-weekly poetry journal, the oldest and widest-circulated poetry journal in China.

Every month editors of Poetry Journal provide us a set of poems from their latest publications for our team to screen and translate.


Poetry Journal(诗刊, Beijing, China) was founded in 1957 with an emphasis not only on the publication of contemporary Chinese poetry, but also the publication of classical poetry by living poets. In addition, it announces poetry gatherings and events across the country, hosts literary criticism forums, and supports poetry translation. The daily operations of the journal are supervised by The Chinese Writers’ Association.

Each month Poetry Journal publishes three paperback journals. The first paperback journal shows up on the shelf in the beginning of the month and features poems by established poets. The second paperback shows up in the middle of the month and features poems by emerging poets. The third is called The Sage Said, which features poetry in classical forms. The journal also maintains a website that broadcasts all matters related to poetry development in China; it has an audience exceeding half a million visitors daily.

Circulating close to sixty years, the journal has been at the forefront of publishing modern Chinese poetry, reflecting many of the sweeping changes that the country has witnessed over that period. The journal has also brought together and introduced a great number of fine poets, published a veritable styles of poems, and contributed to the continuous flowering of Chinese poetry.


11 Roses

  • by Yi Youxi

  • One flower begins to wilt,
  • another flower flaps its wings.
  • Three more flowers hide in their buds,
  • the others
  • show no visible activity.
  • In the beginning,
  • I changed water for them arduously,
  • but they requires less attention now.
  • I added water
  • the day before yesterday,
  • and can hardly tell
  • if it has reduced by even a drop.
  • Mr. Jiao Zhongqing, the classic tragic hero,
  • must have talked to himself:
  • Say it, say I am stupid.
  • Say I’m a fool that I don’t understand elopement.
  • I am not not considering
  • elopement.
  • After all, I must bring a toothbrush, right?
  • Toothbrushes are not commonly shared,
  • and pants, too.
  • Shouldn't I also put together a clean change of clothes?
  • What about soap and shampoo?
  • I am not a knight that comes and goes like a shadow,
  • in forever-prim white clothes,
  • and long wavy hair free of dust.
  • Have you ever seen a knight
  • that has to deal with cooking oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar?
  • Have you ever seen a knight
  • that washes his feet or uses the toilet?
  • On the contrary, I am only a common man,
  • so I must have these items:
  • pots, pans, bowls, ladles, a tub,
  • wash towel for cleaning,
  • foot cloth and toilet paper, right?
  • Her little feet are dainty,
  • suitable only for delicate walking —
  • running she can't possibly do,
  • but I won’t be able to carry her on my back,
  • so I may get a horse wagon,
  • padded with a futon and quilts,
  • and load up two sacks of rice, mosquito coils,
  • brushes, paper, ink stick, ink stone, and the harp that's part of her dowry.
  • I must also bring along her weaving wheels.
  • Only then would I choose a night, pitch dark
  • for a quiet exit,
  • to settle in an entirely new place.
  • I can teach in a small private school;
  • she will weave and play music
  • and bring a brood of children into this world
  • with neither grandmother around.
  • This, then, is what you all want
  • for our romance, right?
  • I have considered elopement, really.
  • Elopement
  • is no more than an unexpected disappearance
  • from family and friends.
  • See, how can the two of us do any better?
  • One will hang oneself,
  • the other will leap into the well,
  • not a trace of to be found,
  • all very neat and tidy.
  • Translated by Meifu Wang and Michael Soper

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