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

Mu Xi’s

  • by Ren Lin

  • The ink wash is quite magical—
  • solid color here,
  • fainter there, and almost clear in other places—
  • sumptuous flesh wrapped in a membrane.
  • These two persimmons
  • look good to go with wine.

  • A lack of color, not at all fashionable,
  • no wonder monks are compared to persimmons.
  • In fact these persimmons are monks.
  • Monks, they do not possess colors.

  • End of autumn, the fruit is a little tart, a touch of frost,
  • the way of the monks—
  • ethereal, but not lonesome.
  • Monks, they do not possess loneliness.

  • What is more amazing
  • is that the stems of the fruits were painted with firm strokes.
  • At the forefront or the background,
  • the dry stems look like burnt ink,
  • all the more fascinating.

  • *Mu Xi, a Buddhist monk in Song Dynasty. His paintings were recorded in by Wu Taisu in Yuan Dynasty. Mu Xi’s painting < Six Persimmons> is kept in the Dade Temple in Japan.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 12