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Chen Jun
(China, 1974)   
Chen Jun

Chen Jun (陈均) specializes in Kun Opera, a form of theatre in the 16th-18th century in central China. Born in Hubei, Chen Jun received a PhD in literature from Beijing University, and currently teaches art history there. He has published one novel, two collections of poetry and two of essays.

Compared to other contemporary Chinese poets, Chen Jun would seem to have a very strange syntax, influenced by Zhu Yingdan (1913-1983) whom he rediscovered while researching earlier poets. Over the last ten years he has introduced readers to Zhu Yingdan, and presented a broader picture of the birth of modernist poetry in China, as well as non-modernist side streams.

In a nutshell: after Hu Shi started New Poetry in 1917 under the influence of Anglophone poetry, Chinese modernism evolved further, encouraged in the 1930s by student-poets who returned to China from France, the United Kingdom and the US. When the mainstream moved to southwest China during the Sino-Japanese War, a small group of poets remained in Beijing and formed a circle named after Fei Ming (1901-1967), who was born in Hubei but became father of Beijing literature. They rejected Western influence but took the late Tang and Song poetry (900-1270 CE) as their models and developed a new free verse.

Zhu Yingdan was one of these poets and carried on this "Chineseness" in his poetry even during the 1970s,when the mainstream then was Mao's style or party-singing propaganda while on the avant garde side was Western-indulged Misty poetry led by Bei Dao.  Chen Jun was one of the new avant garde generation in the 1990s but became part of a "post garde minority" in the 21st century, marked by a strong flavor of 'antiquity' - free verse with traditional diction mixed with contemporary or timeless imagery.

© Ming Di

Chen Jun is featured in Poets from the Land of Chu

Letter from Beijing 3: How would Li Bai Write Today?


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