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 geographical areas.

Poem for the day


  • by Zhang Zhanyuan

  • Let me extract colors from the four seasons,
  • starting with the first day of spring until winter solstice:
  • green from spring wheat, red from wolfberries,
  • yellow from golden rice, and purple from sweet eggplants.

  • I am now too old to climb a three-foot wall,
  • and age spots snuck up at night to embarrass me,
  • but today I shall remodel
  • and adorn myself with a rainbow.

  • My heart opens up to let in a touch of green,
  • which will soon turn into a spring field
  • for galloping horses, flowers and butterflies;
  • A herd of clouds jostle in the blue blustery sky.

  • Then I will add red to my blood,
  • so it will turn passionately into fiery azaleas
  • that roll like a banner across the hills,
  • where crickets sing under a radiant sky.

  • I will have a handsome plaid shirt made
  • of yellow, purple, and white —-
  • yellow for rapeseed flowers,
  • purple for grape juice from Turan,
  • and white for virgin snow.
  • The collar will be bamboo green
  • and the flowing sleeves rosy clouds.

  • Wind, rain, thunder and lightning,
  • the storm has completely recharged me,
  • thus I dance like a crane in the sky
  • and feel renewed like mountain dew.
  • Who’s hinting at sixty bygone years?
  • Oh, no, fairer to say
  • a tree of thirty rings!

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 2