Yu Jian


Yu Jian
b. 1954, Kunming
Poet
Yu Jian, a contemporary poet with a strong interest in experimentation, is a leading figure of the Third Generation /poets, also referred to as the minjian (‘popular space’/folk) group. Characteristic features of his poetry include a rejection of highly metaphorical language, romantic individuality, lyricism and idealism. For Yu Jian, poetry ‘must be firmly planted in the soil of contemporary life’. Although he is occasionally accused of writing ‘non-poetry’ by conservative critics, Yu Jian’s work is generally free of the coarseness and triviality encountered in the writing of other Third Generation’ poets. Over twenty years, he has experimented with a range of styles in a quest for an effective blending of the empirical, the speculative and the aesthetic. Many poems take a fact of everyday life and use it to ‘unfold’ unforeseen cultural implications.
Sixty Poems (Shiliushi shou), his first significant collection, was published in 1989. This was followed by The Naming of a Crow (Dui yi zhi wuya de mingming) and A Nail Through the Sky (Yi mei chuanguo tiankong de dingzi). A representative self-selection of his poetry appeared in The Poetry of Yu Jian (Yu Jian de shi, 2000). This contains definitive versions of two controversial long poems: ‘File 0’ (Ling dang’an, 1992, made into a play by Mou Sen), an extended meditation on the personal dossier and its pervasive influence on Chinese life; and ‘Flight’ (Feixing, 2000), an ambitious summation of many of the styles and themes of his work which deals at length with the destructive effects of modernization.
See also: Misty poetry; poetry
Huot, Clair (2000). ‘Away from Literature II: Words Acted Out’. In idem, China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes. Durham: Duke University Press, 72–90.
Van Crevel, Maghiel (2000). ‘Fringe Poetry, but Not Prose: Works by Xi Chuan and Yu Jian’. Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 3.2:7–42.
Yu, Jian (2001). ‘File O’. Trans. Maghiel van Crevel. Renditions 56:24–57.
——(2001). ‘Extracts from Yu Jian’s Feixing’. Trans. Simon Patton. Mantis 2:8–29.
SIMON PATTON

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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