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

Parting Before Daybreak

  • by An Qi

  • First, the day,
  • then, the daybreak,
  • finally, the time for parting.
  • Local time in Beijing is 7 o’clock sharp according to the TV.

  • As a child, I liked to lie in bed, waiting
  • for daybreak, even then
  • my silver broach stayed in its soft dormant curve.
  • I counted my fingers,
  • exactly ten.

  • Almost daybreak,
  • still no light in the sky.
  • At daybreak you come, daylight is gone when you go,
  • days with light, days without light, days come, days go.
  • You come, you go, coming and going, you come and go.

  • Now a grown-up, I still daydream, waiting
  • for daybreak, like waiting for an archaeologist
  • to excavate, patting me with a spade
  • and expose me to daylight.
  • Oh, oh, just as I feel the thrill, I see your hand leaving.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 11