Tamen


Tamen
(They)
Poets, poetry magazine
‘Tamen’ is the name both of a group of poets and of a magazine established in 1985 in Nanjing that printed nine issues between 1985 and 1996. Founders of the group were Han Dong, Ding Dang, Yu Jian and Yu Xiaowei, young poets born in the 1950s and 1960s who followed regular studies and hold university degrees. Later on, Zhu Wen, Wu Chenjun, Liu Ligan, Yi Sha, Zhu Zhu joined the group. Some of them also became well known as fiction writers (Han Dong, Zhu Wen, Wu Chenjun). Since the beginning, the poet, writer and essayist Han Dong has been the editor of the magazine and, theoretically, the leader of the group.
‘Tamen’ poets claim to be a pure literary group, open to external contributions and based on literary exchange and mutual growth, such as the literary societies established in China in the 1930s. A true passion for poetry and a spiritual affinity that binds all its members finds its roots in the friendship shared by Li Bai and Du Fu in the Tang dynasty. The group has not put forward poetic theories or a manifesto, refuses literary schemes and opposes a joint method of writing, emphasizing the importance of diversity and the uniqueness of individual experience as starting points of poetic creation as well as a way to resist the homologization of post-industrial society. Their aim is to free Chinese contemporary poetry both from the burden of classical culture and tradition and from the influence of Western culture.
It is possible to find a few aspects shared by the members of the group: a tendency to use simple colloquial language, which represents a serious attack on and a provocation to the ideology of the dominant (poetic) culture; the decision to embody in their poetry themes tied to ordinary daily life, trivial scenarios and insignificant things in order to break ties with the existing value system. It is an anti-heroic and unconventional poetry, one that refuses allusions, quotations and the cultural sedimentation of an elitist language. The intent is to go back to an uncontaminated language, free from established significance in order to express authentic experiences, and extrapolate from the colloquial language the pure musicality of words, because language is not merely a means used by the poet but his companion in the act of poetic creation. The result is poetry that is often prosaic, tends to the narrative, listing facts and objects of daily life in an anti-lyrical style. In this way it succeeds in frustrating the reader’s expectations and becomes an expedient able to break down and dissolve the musicality of the verse and its evocative strength. They also claim that poetry should not live in the illusion of the past but should return to daily life in order to discover its poetic significance, and reveal the beauty of triviality and the absurdity of existence.
ROSA LOMBARDI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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