Misty poetry


Misty poetry
(Menglongshi)
Also translated ‘obscure poetry,’ Menglongshi was one of the most controversial phenomena on the Chinese literary scene in the post-Mao era. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, a group of young poets who had experienced suffering and disillusionment during the Cultural Revolution wrote poems that were distinctively different from the socialist realist style prevailing during the Mao era. Symbolically subtle and thematically iconoclastic and polysemous, these poems are novel in images and bold in self-expression. Although the term menglongshi has been generally used to refer to them, it does not properly characterize their diversified poetry. Menglongshi was first used by Zhang Ming in 1980 to criticize the newly rising poetic style as obscure and inappropriate; similar criticism had appeared the year before which condemned the poetry as indulging in individualism and betraying the social responsibilities of intellectuals. Defence of the menglong poetry came immediately from different generations of Chinese intellectuals, including articles by Sun Shaozhen, Xie Mian, Xu Jingya and Ai Qing.
The supporters saw in menglongshi a strong call for humanism and an insuppressible pursuit of individual freedom, both direct reactions to the Cultural Revolution. They also applauded the refreshing aesthetic principles asserted by these poets, who opposed the didactic and political literary theories that governed Chinese poetry in earlier decades. The rise of menglongshi and the five-year debate over it exerted considerable impact on the intellectual discourse in the PRC and gave new direction to freestyle poetry. The best-known menglong poets include Bei Dao, Shu Ting, Gu Cheng, Jiang He, Yang Lian and Meng Ke.
Chen, Xiaomei (1991). ‘Misunderstanding Western Modernism: The Menglong Movement in Post-Mao China’. Representations 35 (Summer): 143–63.
Yeh, Michelle (2003). ‘Misty Poetry’. In Joshua Mostow (ed.) and Kirk A.Denton (China section, ed.), Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literatures. New York: Columbia University Press, 520–6.
QIU PEIPEI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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