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 that 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 almost 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.

All enquiries, suggestions and corrections regarding 21st Chinese Poetry should be directed to Meifu Wang at:

Founder and Editor
Meifu Wang

Poem of the day 一日一首

The Old Donkey

  • by Niu Qingguo

  • She is old, the donkey who plowed our field year after year.
  • The first revelation came the day she knelt on her front legs
  • and the cart was pushed uphill by Father
  • with every thread of his strength.

  • That evening, Father embraced the donkey’s skinny legs
  • like a man circling his arm around an old friend's shoulders.
  • He said, “We are old, you and I.”

  • Now, the donkey seemed to know she served no purpose
  • and lost interest in water and hay.
  • The ragged coat she had worn for a lifetime
  • showed a bald scar, the size of a hand.

  • I told Father to take her to the market,
  • but they always came back together
  • like a young couple, forced by parents to divorce,
  • leaving home at dawn and returning together timidly at dusk.

  • The other day, I stepped outside
  • and saw the donkey, chin on the fence;
  • she beckoned me with a trembling voice, so bleak and so sad,
  • but Father said he knew what she meant to say.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 4