LETTER FROM BEIJING 3: HOW WOULD LI BAI WRITE TODAY?
By Chen Dongdong 陈东东
Light up an oil lamp in the rocks so they can see
the sea. Let them see
the sea and the antique fish.
See the light too,
a lamp held high on the hill.
Light up a lamp in the streams so they can see
the live fish. Let them see
the fish and the silent sea.
See the sunset as well,
a firebird flying up from the trees.
Light up all the lamps. When I block the north wind
with my hands and stand between two canyons,
I think they will all gather around me
and see I speak a language
like a lamp.
Chen Dongdong 陈东东, born in Shanghai in 1961, was one of the “Third Generation” in China that rose in the 1980s trying to bypass the Misty poets such as Bei Dao. They were not interested in the political lyricism that prevailed in the misty poetry as well as in the mainstream poetry, nor did they care about the dominant realistic aesthetics. Zhang Zao, Bai Hua and Chen Dongong are known today for their experiment in the 1980s when they were trying to revive the classical language. They were in the New Poetry (free verse) camp but they favored the subtleties of Chinese and the classical tone as against the plain spoken language. In the 1990s Chen Dongdong was one the “intellectual writing” poets along with Xi Chuan and Ouyang Jianghe. He currently lives in the suburb of Shenzhen, south China.
Continue to read the rest of the letter at Poetry International