Third Generation /poets


Third Generation /poets
Vaguely denoting a collective identity of younger poets in the mid 1980s, the term ‘Third Generation poets’ (Disandai shiren) was first used in a 1985 essay by Wan Xia in Contemporary Poetry (Xiandai shi, Chengdu). Defined by Wan Xia, the ‘first generation’ included Ai Qing, Guo Xiaochuan, Shao Yanxiang and others who had dominated the poetic realm in the 1950s and 1960s. The ‘Second Generation’ referred to those survivors of the Cultural Revolution, such as Bei Dao, Jiang He and Yang Lian, and the ‘Third Generation’ to those who had grown up in the 1970s and whose voices began to be heard in the mid 1980s. Wan Xia’s periodization is supported by the fact that in the mid 1980s several new poetry groups simultaneously emerged in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Sichuan, each linked to their own ‘underground poetry publications’ (dixia shikan). Among their publications the most notable were: Contemporary Poetry, On the Sea (Haishang), They (Tamen), The Continents (Dalu), and Not-Not (Feifei, see Zhou Lunyou). Representatives of this generation are Hu Dong, Yu Jian, Zhai Yongming, Wan Xia, Wang Yin, Meng Lang, Mo Mo, Hei Dachun, Xi Chuan, Lü De’an and Liang Xiaoming.
Eagerly distinguishing themselves from their precedents, especially from the established Misty poetry (of the ‘Second Generation’), these poets searched for a new poetic identity based on a collective understanding of the unique and multiple capacities in the Chinese language; their techniques and aesthetic codes were indebted to various new literary theories, including poststructuralism and postmodernism; and their work, while offering diverse individual styles, shared several common features: textual complexity, a focus on everyday life, ordinary language and local colour, and irrationality.
Crespi, John (2003). ‘Form and Reform: New Poetry and the Crescent Moon Society’.
In [Joshua Mostow (ed.) and Kirk Denton (ed. China section),] Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literatures. New York: Columbia University Press, 364–70.
Li, Fukan and Hung, Eva (1992). ‘Post-Misty Poetry’. Renditions 37:93–8.
Li, Xia (1999). ‘Confucius, Playboys and Rusticated Glasperlenspieler: from Classical Chinese Poetry to Postmodernism’ Interlitterraria (Tartu, Estonia) 4:41–60.
Tao, Naikan (1995/1996). ‘Going Beyond: Post-Menglong Poets.’ Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 27/28:146–53.
Twitchell, Jeffrey and Huang, Fan (1997). ‘Avant-Garde Poetry in China: The Nanjing Scene 1981–1992’. World Literature Today 71.1:29–35.
CHEN JIANHUA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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