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

January (or An Evening of Reading)

  • by Chen Yanqiang

  • Going into December*,
  • the whole country is on the move.
  • Spring will be delivered to every household.
  • Migrant workers are all going home;
  • beautiful women show up on the streets
  • beneath coverings of wool or down,
  • their heartbeats no longer visible.
  • People are everywhere, shopping for the New Year.
  • I only realized that the year was ending
  • when I flipped the calendar the other day.

  • This is an era of clanking golden coins,
  • and my leaden fatigue has turned into a beast,
  • sick of the altered lifestyle and gloomy overhang.
  • Right now, the night is getting deeper
  • and feeling even quieter than my loneliness,
  • so I huddle by the electric stove in my inhospitable living room
  • and open People’s Literary Journal that just arrived.
  • I begin to read Factory Girls by Zheng Xiaoqiong
  • and slowly slip into the world of hell
  • that swallowed up so many souls,
  • so many southern Chinese souls.
  • Suddenly I have an urge to text the author
  • and ask her where she will be on New Year's Day.

  • * Referring to December of the Lunar Calendar

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 3