Zhang Lijia on her poetry evening in Beijing:
The first time that I was enthralled by poetry was in the early 80’s when I read the so-called ‘misty poems’, the modern free verse coined up by the young generation of poets in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. Before that, the only modern style poems (as opposed to the classic Chinese) were the poems – more like slogans with rhymes – singing the praise of Chairman Mao and the Party. Through the mist of those new poems, I saw a world of rich imagination, vivid symbols, feelings and emotions that had never been explored before. And they were private as the poetry should be – a place to explore personal truth. I was in the late teens, lovelorn. I fell in love with those ‘misty poems’ and its melancholy mood. With plenty time at my hands, I started to write my own lyrics, copying the ‘misty poems’.
After I grew up, I realized how difficult it is to write a good poem. So I stopped. And then life got busy, poems slowly disappeared from my life…
As China has been besieged by commercialization, people are much less interesting in reading book, particularly poetry books. But I am glad to see there are still poets follow their passion. The majority of them take some kind of jobs, Xi Chuan teaching, Zhai Yongming running a bar in Chengdu and Lu Yue working for a newspaper.
Even since the poetry evening, I’ve started to read a few more poems. Good for the soul, I believe.