Hu Xudong began writing modern poetry as a student at Peking University when, without any clear reason, he was prompted to join the Fourth of May Literary Club. It was a social activity at once mysterious and exciting. He has continued to write ever since and recently, the young Hu, who graduated with a PhD in Chinese contemporary literature and teaches Portuguese literature at Peking University, was lauded as one of China’s Top New Poets.
Hu is a versatile character, alongside his job as a university lecturer, he writes poetry and essays, but also works as a columnist, translator (of Portuguese poetry) and a TV presenter. His poetry is versatile too and covers many different subjects. Hu’s work often contains clear narratives, recorded in quirky, sometimes surreal imagery, like, for example, ‘You have an outer space violin in you left ear / that plays a string of quiet clouds / in the noisy subway’ (in the poem ‘Lifelong Undercover’).
It is striking how many animals appear in the selection chosen for Poetry International festival, and water too in different forms is present in almost all the poems, with the nicest image being that of a cat that leaves like ‘running water’ (in the poem The white cat Tochtamysj). Hu is an observer with a good feel for detail and humour, as he demonstrates in the poem, ‘Mama Ana Paula Also Writes Poetry’:
with her big palm-tree fingers. When she licked my panicked ears
with marijuana tongue, I didn’t know she writes poetry.
From 2003 to 2005, Hu was visiting professor at Brasilia University and in 2008, he took part in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa (U.S.A.). That same year, he was ‘poet in residence’ at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida and in 2010, visiting professor at National Central University in Taiwan. Hu Xudong belongs to a growing group of poets (including Zang Di and Xiao Kaiyu) who have spent time abroad and incorporated their experiences into their poetry.
Hu’s work has been translated into several languages. In 2012, he took part in the Chinese Culture Forum in Hannover and the international poetry festival Cosmopoética in Córdoba (Spain), in 2013, the Asian-Nordic Poetry Festival (Finland/Norway) and the Pacific Poetry Festival in Taiwan.
Books of poetry in Chinese:
From Water’s Edge, Beijing: New Youth, 2001
Juice of the Wind, Beijing: New Youth, 2002
Amor en los Tiempos del SARS, Beijing: New Youth, 2003
What Time Is It There?, Hangzhou: Blogcn, 2005
The Strength of the Calendar, Beijing: The Writers Publishing House, 2007
The Eternal Inside Man, Guangzhou: Royal Media, 2010
Travel/Poems, Haikou: Hainan Publishing House, 2011
Poems of Diapers, Taipei: Showwe, 2013
Books of prose in Chinese:
Random Words of A Random Life, Beijing: Workers Press, 2006
Go to His Brazil, Beijing: China Friendship Publishing Corporation, 2007
Eat/Think, Beijing: Law Press China, 2011
A Casual Passion in Brazil, Nanjing: Nanjing University Press, 2012
Anthologies in English and Spanish which contain Hu Xudong’s poems:
Another Kind of Nation: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry, Edited by Zhang Er & Chen Dongdong, Jersey City: Talisman House, 2007
Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, Edited by Wang Qingping, Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2011
Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, Edited by Yang Lian & W.H. Herbert, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2012
New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012, Edited by Mindy, North Adams: Tupelo Press, 2013
La Niebla de Nuestra Edad, 10 poetas chinos contemporáneos, Editado por Fan Ye & Javier Martín Ríos, Granada: Ficciones, 2009