Zhai Yongming


Zhai Yongming
b. 1955, Chengdu, Sichuan
Poet
Zhai Yongming worked in the 209 Institute of Arms Industry Bureau from 1974. In 1977 she entered the Chengdu College of Telecommunication and Construction. After graduation in 1980, she returned to the Institute and began writing poetry. Her debut, Women Series (Nüren zushi), appeared in 1984, and was immediately acclaimed by critics for its daring feminist perspective and unique style. From the late 1980s she became a full-time writer in the Chengdu Academy of Literature. Her published anthologies are The Women (Nüren) and Expressions in Darkness (Hei’anli de biaoxian).
In her work, Zhai Yongming explores the female voice and poetic space through a combination of complex self-reflection and bold formal experiment. In the poetic landscape of the 1990s, she stood out for a distinctive style that departed from the lyricism pervasive in the previous decade. In a poetic language that is inventive, dense and mysterious, she depicts tragic, evocative and rebellious emotions. In her preface to Women Series, she declares, ‘As a half of the human race, a woman faces a totally different world from the moment of her birth… In fact, every woman faces her own abyss where the pains in her inner heart are incessantly destroyed and recognized.’ With her ‘consciousness of darkness’ Zhai Yongming probes the realms of eroticism, voyeurism and madness, and opens new possibilities for aesthetic creation. Based on her individual experience, she creates a poetic world saturated with nightmare, dream, delirium, fantasy and hallucination. It is a dark world that is, nonetheless, imbued with a feminist concern for the fate of Chinese women in the past and present.
Tao, Naikan (1999). ‘Building a White Tower at Night: Zhai Yongming’s Poetry’. World Literature Today 73.3: 409–16.
Zhang, Jeanne H. (2002). ‘Zhai Yongming’s “Woman”—With Special Reference to its Intertextual Relations with the Poetry of Sylvia Plath’. Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 5.2: 109–30.
CHEN JIANHUA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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