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

Early-Blooming Chrysanthemum

  • by Liu Chengyu

  • I raised my head, and, out of the blue, you were there standing before me.
  • It must have been a dream. I said “Hello, Chrysanthemum” in a whisper
  • for fear my voice would break the spell.

  • Since we met last year, I had been preparing a path for you.
  • First I cleared the snow, then removed the stones,
  • and when I began to look forward to more sunny days,
  • you showed up unexpectedly.

  • Summer had just begun, and I hadn’t yet found a vocabulary
  • to sing your praises; I vowed to write a verse superior
  • to last year’s Four Songs for a Chrysanthemum,
  • to lay it out on the road to welcome you.

  • You stood on the pebbles near the edge of the road,
  • looking down, without a word. I called your name again
  • and was about to wipe the tears off your eyelashes, but you
  • shook your head and said: "We agreed to meet in fall."

  • But I dreamt of you last night,
  • and the endless summer quickly came to an end.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 2