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

On Love Fantasy of the Lowest Kind

  • by Wang Jiming

  • 1.

  • It happened only once, before I was 50, and can never be repeated again,
  • when I indulged in an unspeakable pleasure for two years
  • ---carnal pleasure, pure sensual pleasure--
  • not only in luxury hotels, but sometimes
  • in cheap hourly rooms or in even darker corners.
  • It happened not only at night, even more often on springtime mornings.
  • Whenever I felt my body was tormented by desires,
  • I would squander away what treasures people were eager to have
  • just to indulge myself for one moment---
  • making sure the shades of the curtains and the bed sheets,
  • the brightness of the lamps and the ambiance were just right.
  • I indulged in living and couldn’t care less about what life was for.
  • Of course, what I did violated the codes of conduct of
  • my countrymen and would be condemned if known.
  • Even though it all started with love, but our love had no future.

  • Still, I let my body and soul enter yours,
  • my lips pressed on yours, soon
  • all was obliterated and nothing else mattered anymore,
  • including writing and reading afterwards
  • until one day I was bored with it. So, not long ago,
  • I curbed the evil deeds of my shameful, violent libido
  • and found another way to channel my desires.
  • Otherwise, who knows what would have happened to me,
  • probably destroyed, completely destroyed!

  • 2.

  • Only if I were sufficiently restless, talented and idle,
  • would I publicize our secret pleasure of those years
  • --- in poetry or another art form ---
  • I feel a new round of desires springing up in me --
  • yesterday I passed by the pleasure house where
  • we made love again and again, and all day I was absorbed
  • in the memory and couldn't think or accomplish a thing.
  • So when the night quieted down, I drew your beautiful nude body from memory
  • on a large piece of paper
  • and stared at it with my sleepy eyes until dawn.
  • My head was wrapped in the heat of our entangled bodies,
  • the apple scent of your hair, your silky skin and almost perfect curves,
  • your magical hands, lips and tongue, my desperate climax and blissful despair, in and out,
  • ---the pleasure of our love was so unique, and like a daze that
  • we couldn’t help but returning to it again and again.
  • We even wrote it into our will----
  • It’s time for me to open the hidden box while we are still in this world.
  • Let me try to tell it under broad daylight.
  • Evoking the power of my desires and ability for graphic fantasies,
  • I will reshape our bodies into youthful strength and beauty,
  • but how I worry that I am so inept at poetic artistry
  • that our enduring secret love would be reduced to something
  • beneath the dignity of our souls.

  • from 21st Century Chinese Poetry, No. 2