Melbourne social media poet Katie Keys and Chinese poet Yisha will discuss the future of Digital Literature at the Beijing Bookworm on September 10, 2014.
To prepare for this encounter, we asked each of them a series of questions – and are now sharing their answers as part of the Marco Polo Festival

Can you introduce yourself, particularly your practice of online literature
imgresKate
Hi, I’m Katie Keys (also known as @tinylittlepoems on Twitter, or as Kate Larsen in my day-job as Director of Writers Victoria in Melbourne).I’m a writer and poet who mostly works in the area of short-form digital poetry (I have posted a poem a day on Twitter for the last five years). With more than 2,000 of my tiny little poems now online, I like to joke that this project has given me a very large body of very small work.I recently shared some of my thoughts about digital writing through the form of tiny little poems themselves on the Writers Victoria blog.So, what does poetry mean to me?

The homes we make for words,

the niche we find,

the gaps we fill.

The wish we make,

the sum of all our parts. 

你好,我叫凯蒂•基斯(我在推特上的名字叫:@tinylittlepoems,由于我还担任墨尔本的维多利亚作家协会主席的职务,我的日常用名为凯特•拉森)。我是作家兼诗人,主要写短形式数码诗(过去五年中,我每天都在推特上贴出一首诗)。截至目前为止,我在网上已有2000多首精短小诗。我喜欢开玩笑说,这个项目使我的小作品取得了很大的体积。最近,我通过Writers Victoria blog这个博客上我的精短小诗的形式,跟人们分享了我关于数码诗的一些想法。那么,诗歌对我来说意味着什么呢?它意味着

我们为文字安下的家,

我们找到的神龛,

我们填补的空白。

我们许下的愿望,

诗:各个部分的总和

您可以自己介绍一下?特别介绍您网络文学的做法。
 WeiboYisha
伊沙,中国当代著名诗人、作家。 1966年生于四川成都。1989年毕业于北京师范大学中文系。现于西安外国语大学中文学院任教。出版著、译、编60余部作品。获美国亨利·鲁斯基金会中文诗歌奖金及中国国内数十项诗歌奖项。曾应邀出席瑞典第16届奈舍国际诗歌节、荷兰第38届鹿特丹国际诗歌节、英国第20届奥尔德堡国际诗歌节、马其顿第50届斯特鲁加国际诗歌节、中国第二、三、四届青海湖国际诗歌节、第二届澳门文学节等国际交流活动。2011年4月,我应中国四大网站之一——网易读书频道的邀请,开设了《新世纪诗典》微专栏,每天向读者推荐一首优秀的中文现代诗,三年零五个月来,一日无空,迄今已经推荐了1234首,出自545位当代中文诗人之手,每天有少则几万多则数十万的读者围观,是目前中文世界中最有公众影响力与专业权威性的诗歌平台,由此结集出版的纸质诗集《新世纪诗典(第一季)》、《新世纪诗典(第二季)》发行数万册,成为新世纪以来最为畅销的中文诗集。 Yi Sha, well-known contemporary Chinese poet and writer, was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, in 1966, and graduated from the Chinese Department, Beijing Normal University in 1989. He is now teaching in the School of Chinese Literature, Xi’an Foreign Languages University. To date, he has published over 60 books, written, translated or edited and won a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in the USA and more than a dozen poetry awards in China. He was invited participate in a number of international exchange activities, such as the 16th International Poetry Festival in Sweden, the 38th Rotterdam International Poetry Festival in the Netherlands, the 20th Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival, the 50th Struga International Poetry Festival in Macedonia, the Qinghai Lake International Poetry Festival in China (the 2nd, the 3rd and the 4th), and the 2nd Macau Literary Festival.In April, 2011, Yi Sha, at the invitation of the dushu pindao (Reading Channel) at Wangyi, one of the four large internet sites in China, started running a micro-column, known as ‘Poetry Classics in the New Century’, recommending a good modern Chinese poem to the readers on a daily basis. For five months and three years, not a day goes by without one poem being recommended and, at the time of writing, 1234 poems, by 545 Chinese-language poets, have been recommended, with daily readers numbering in the tens of thousands at the minimum and in the hundreds of thousands at the maximum, it having now become a platform of professional authority for poetry with a major influence on the public in the Chinese-speaking world. Two books have resulted from this, Poetry Classics in the New Century (Vol., I) and Poetry Classics in the New Century (Vol., II), with tens of thousands of copies published, becoming the best-selling Chinese-language poetry collections since the beginning of the new century.
What do you think is the difference between online poetry and traditional poetry?
imgresKate
New technologies have taken poetry off the page and into people’s Facebook feeds. Whether surfing blogs or websites, or scrolling through social media, non-traditional poetry audiences can stumble across a poem almost by accident. Someone who may never have dreamed of picking up a poetry book can now find and enjoy a bite-sized poem that could change the way they think about words or the world.The number of ways they find and read that poem have changed too. From tankas to TXT SPK, to visual poetry and quoted memes, or videos, audio files and more. Poetry is everywhere (and is now much more easy to find).Twitter may not have the best reputation. But if you take the time to look past the boring and banal, you can find beauty, creativity and an amazingly active online community.Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it perfect home for short-form poetry. But it’s not only about the word-count that brings Twitter its thriving #poetry community. Some people use it to publish full poems, while others link to longer poems on their websites or share quotes from poems they like. Some write in specific forms (like #haiku), some write very short stories (#vss), and some use Twitter to send out a daily #poetryprompt for other people to respond to. There are thousands of poets writing from all sorts of places in all sorts of styles. And thousands more on Facebook, or Pinterest, or Weibo. 新技术把诗歌从纸页上移除,进入“脸书”,成为人们的“饲料”。无论是在博客或网站冲浪,还是滑动着穿过社交媒体,非传统的诗歌观众总是能够碰巧撞上一首诗。一个连做梦都想不会想到拿起一本诗集来看的人,却可能找到一首只占很小比特量的诗,改变他们对文字或世界的看法。他们寻找并阅读那首诗的方式也发生了改变。从短歌到TXT SPK(即聊天室语言—译者注),到视觉诗歌和引用视讯,或音频文档以及其他,诗歌到处都是(而且现在容易找得多)。推特的名声可能不是最佳。但是,如果你花点时间,略过无聊和平庸之作不看的话,你就能找到美、创意和一个极为活跃的网上社区。推特的140个字符限制,使之成为短形式诗歌完美无缺之家,但推特这个欣欣向荣的#诗歌社区的产生,并不是受限文字带来的。有些人用推特发表整首诗歌,而其他人则把它用作链接,通向他们的网站或分享他们喜欢的诗歌引文。有些人以特定的形式写作(如#haiku),有些人写作很短的故事(#vss),还有些人用推特每天发送诗歌(#poetryprompt),让别的人来回应。现有成千上万的诗人以各种各样的风格在各地写作。还有更多的人在Facebook、Pinterest或微博上写作。
您觉得网络诗歌和传统诗歌有什么区别?
 WeiboYisha
新世纪初,当网络兴起的初期,我对“网络诗歌”的提法是比较抗拒的,我认为网络只是一个传播工具,是个载体而已,“网络诗歌”不该另有标准,它必须遵循诗歌的艺术原则。如今,十多年过去了,我们回头看,我必须承认,网络的存在还是多少改变了诗歌的发展走势及其特点,比如说,因为网上的交流是作者与读者“面对面”的,在网上发布的诗歌必须具有被阅读的可能性,于是晦涩之作便很难收到欢迎,诗歌变得更直接更易懂了,最好当场就有一个很明显的阅读效果……我编选并推荐《新诗典》时,也顺从了这个大势所趋。对于中国诗歌固步自封的传统而言,我认为这是一个很好的颠覆与改造。 In the beginning of this new century when the internet was on the rise, I was resistant to the so-called ‘internet poetry’ as I thought that the internet was only a tool for communications, a mere carrier, and that there shouldn’t be other standards for the ‘internet poetry’ than the fact that it ought to also follow the artistic principals of poetry. A decade on, when we look back, I must admit that the existence of the internet has somehow changed the trends and characteristics of poetry in its development. For example, because the exchange on the net between the writers and the readers are ‘face to face’, poetry as published on the net must have the possibility of being read, which means that it’ll be hard for the obscure writings to be welcomed and that poetry has become more direct and easier to understand, the best it would be when there is an obvious reading effect in-situ….When I edited and made recommendations for Poetry Classics in the New Century I followed this trend. I think this is an excellent subversion against and reform on the complacent tradition of Chinese poetry.
What do you think are the benefits of posting and reading a piece every day for writers and readers?
imgresKate
It’s made me a better writer, and a better reader too.Posting your work online is a great way to get feedback on your writing. When I started sending out my daily poems, I had an audience of about four people. But I joined in conversations, started using hashtags, built up a body of work and a reputation for not tweeting about my lunches. The number of people following me began to grow, and when they began to retweet and favourite my poems, I knew which ones were working well and which were not as strong.The practice of writing every day helped me push past my inner editor and hone my ability to write short-form poems at pace. Twitter forces its users to be brief. This works well for poetry because it means I have to think about every single word. Committing to churning out a poem every day also helped me get over my own excuses of being “too busy” or “too tired” to write. Now, nearly 5,000 people read my poems every day (and I often find it harder to write anything more than 140 characters long).Building up an online portfolio has led to other opportunities too – publications, performances and interviews, speaking gigs at festivals, and residencies in five different cities (with a trip to Beijing about to be added to that list). It’s led to me being included on a creative writing curriculum at a high-school in Oklahoma and an exhibition of digital poetry in Washington DC, to my poems being scrawled across the Arts Centre Melbourne and even towards me starting to get paid for being a poet from last year. 这使我成为一名更好的作家,也使我成为一名更好的读者。在网上贴出你的作品,是一种很棒的方式,能够得到人们对你作品的反馈。我开始把我每日的诗歌发送出去时,我的观众约为四人。但是,我参加到谈话中区,开始使用hashtags,打造了一批作品并获得了不爱把午餐琐事放在推特上的好名声。追随我的人数开始增加,他们开始转发并喜欢我的诗歌时,我就知道,哪些诗歌有力,那些还不够强大。每天从事写作实践,有助于我无视内心那个编辑,磨练我按一定速度写作短形式诗歌的能力。推特逼着用户用语精炼,这对诗歌来说很好,因为这意味着我用每个字都要好好想想。致力于每天都写诗,也有助于我克服自己“太忙”或“太累”而没法写的这类托词。现在,每天几乎有5000人看我的诗(而且,我经常发现,要写长度超过140个字符很困难。)在网上打造一个“投资组合”,也创造了很多商机—作品发表、出场演出、接受访谈、出席节庆活动,发表演讲、在五座城市当驻市作家(这张清单上就要加上北京了)。我还因此而进入了俄克拉荷马州一所中学的创意写作课程并在华盛顿特区做了一次数码诗歌展览,我的诗歌还写满了墨尔本艺术中心,我甚至还从去年起,能靠当诗人赚钱了。
您觉得每天发表,每天阅读诗歌,对作家和读者有什么好处?
WeiboYisha
美国大诗人埃兹拉·庞德曾经说起经常发表诗歌对于诗人的好处,这会令诗人处于一种正常的专业、行业状态,是一种积极的良性刺激(除非你自己异化了,把发表当做目的);对于读者而言——如果他们是经常阅读诗歌的读者,至少在我的国家里,他们几乎是品位最高的一类读者,他们一定是最有诗意、最有美感、最有智慧、最有追求的一类读者。 The great American poet Ezra Pound talked about the benefit for the poet of getting frequently published as it would keep the poet stay normally and professionally fit, an active stimulus (unless you have alienated yourself for the purpose of being published). For the readers, if they are frequent readers of poetry, at least in my country, they are ones at the highest level, the most poetic, the most aesthetic and the most intelligent readers, in hottest pursuit of poetry.
How do online readers influence online poets and writers?
imgresKate
As my online audience grew, some readers began to write to me directly – sometimes with feedback and sometimes with suggestions for a different word or rhyme. Thanks to the proliferation of digital writing, readers are less passive and more interested in using technologies to engage in different and creative ways. I will regularly receive a #replypoem to something I publish on Twitter – creative a real-time written collaboration between two writers who may have never met. It never fails to make me smile. 随着我网上观众的增加,有些读者直接给我写信了—有时候给我反馈,有时候对某个字或某个韵脚提出建议。由于数码写作的增殖,读者不再那么消极,而是更有兴趣使用技术,参与各种不同的创意活动。我只要在推特上发表什么,我就会经常在#replypoem收到回应—这是两个从未谋面的作家进行的创意而又实时的协作,总是让我一想起来脸上就浮起微笑。
网络读者怎么影响网络诗人和作家?
 WeiboYisha
我们必须正视这个现实——就是我在前面提及的网络时代作者与读者“面对面”的现实——这是传统作家从未遇到过的现实,读者的现场反映对作者毫无影响几乎是不可能的——你感觉没有,是因为它发生在潜意识里,你感觉不到。老实说,当我经历了第一部大长篇《迷乱》在中国的出版社50次以上以艺术与商业之外的原因遭到拒绝之后,我之后的长篇在某些地方就不敢写了,笔就变软了——可见作品的遭际会对你的写作产生影响,我们所能做的只是尽可能不接受负面的影响,或者将负面的影响降低到最低限度,把正面的好影响发扬光大。 We have to face this reality—the ‘face to face’ reality that I mentioned in which writers of an internet age have to meet with the readers—that traditional writers have never encountered. It is impossible that in-situ reader responses have no impact on the writers. You feel as if it didn’t happen because you don’t feel it as it happens in your sub-consciousness. To be honest, when my big novel, Possessed (mi luan) was rejected for over 50 times by publishers in China for artistic and commercial reasons, there are places in my subsequent novels that I dare not write as my pen, as it were, becomes softened. It can be seen from here that the experience of what a novel encounters in its submission and rejection does have an impact on your writing. All we can do is reject the negative impact as much as possible or minimize it to allow a full play to the positive impact.

Melbourne / Xi’an, 21/08/14. Translated by Ouyang Yu, 22/8/14, at Kingsbury, Victoria, Australia.

Reading thread is a new series offering personal journeys through the Marco Polo Project catalogue. This piece is the third in a series by Francis Beechinor, from the London University School of Oriental and African Studies. 

up the stairs

‘China – I’ve heard it’s just like ‘1984’.’ No, that’s wrong. Very wrong.

Many westerners I’ve encountered believe that Chinese people have no freedom of expression whatsoever, especially on the internet.

If they do express themselves with a degree of independence on any topic at all, police will blast into their bedroom in the middle of the night and steal them away to a menacing ministry of some sort. ‘Yes officer, I’m coming. I just need to put my pants on.’

Simply by scrolling through various articles on the Marco Polo Project website, it’s obvious that such generalisations are not true. Censorship exists, topics are taboo, and serious police intimidations do happen. But original, innovative and critically reflective material is also published every day in China.

To further celebrate the Marco Polo Festival of Digital Literature, we have gathered some fascinating pieces on internet pluralism and online expression.

Enjoy and in the future, don’t take Orwellian comparisons at face value.

 

Media power, media pluralism, and media governance – 媒体权力,媒体多元主义与媒体治理圆桌会议

by Zhang Tianpan, 3rd April 2014

Zhang Tianpan, who will be appearing at the Marco Polo Dig-Lit festival, seems to be big on social action and drive.

Previously, we’ve seen how he empathised with the Shamate, the hipster sub-culture on the rise in China. Now he’s talking about how the use of ‘opinion writing’ on the internet needs to change.

Incessant ramblings on Weibo and other social media sites need to stop, more action is needed too. You need to talk the talk, walk the walk; have a bark and a bite to really change things.

 

Who will set linguistic norms on the internet? – 网络语言由谁立规范

by Guo Weiqing, 7th May 2012

 

Often, internet censorship, along with Tiananmen and the Cultural Revolution, are favorite China-related conversation topics in the West. All of which contribute to the shallow ‘1984’ stereotype certain westerners have of the Chinese intellectual environment.

This piece gives a nuance to the way we think about China’s censorship.

It isn’t all removing the names of controversial politicians and anything to do with Tibet; some Chinese censors are also striving towards a linguistic standard which the internet in some ways hinders.

The cyber world must be a linguistic-nightmare for officials, people are constantly using slang, dialectical phrases, traditional and simplified Chinese.

 

20 years on, how the internet has reshaped modern China – 二十年,互联网重构现代中国

by Zhang Tianpan, 2nd May 2014

 

Zhang Tianpan strikes again! Only this time, he’s gone all post-modernist on us!

How has the internet changed our lives? Zhang focuses on the sociology of our circumstances where we learn less from the old and more from the young.

Has anyone seen the Spike Jonze movie ‘Her’? I think this movie captures the ‘light’ culture Zhang talks about perfectly. Nothing is solid, it’s all based on thin air.

 

Online literature is dead, let’s start burning the paper – 网络文学已死,有事烧纸

by Wei Yingjie, 9th July 2013

 

The death of online literature seems to be a common theme amongst Chinese writers. In a previous post, I spoke about the dynamics in the Wang Xinyu and Jianhan Qiushui pieces.

Wei Yingjie, on the other hand, reminisces on a past where internet literature truly flourished. The turn of the millennium, where the internet was a literary land of milk and honey.

Perhaps, to take on Jianhan’s view, online literature simply needs to adapt to a new form in order to revive itself?

 

What does internet pluralism amount to? – 网络价值多元主义能否成气候?

by Muran, 25th July 2014

 

Muran commonly writes about the effect of the internet and social media in China, you may have spotted the articles on Weibo being ‘a good thing’ or questioning whether it’s a ‘populist paradise’.

This article is no exception and Muran does not fail to pose an equally magnificent question: ‘what does internet pluralism amount to?’

So what does it amount to? If you could be so kind and help translate this article, we will find out in due course.

 

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

Sun Yat Sen memorial

New texts published

Public intellectual, or Private thinker – Lan Ran

Remembering Umberto Eco’s visit to China, this piece offers a meditation on the potential role of novelists as public intellectuals – how such figures existed during the Republican period, but are now failing in contemporary China’s literary scene.

 

Dead money, live money – Xin Lijian

Where should the money go? In this discussion informed by historical precedent, Xin Lijian argues for a redistribution of national wealth, in favour of entrepreneurs, or ‘hens’ – who generate more for the community – and away from public servants or ‘cocks’, who simply monitor and control. Only then would be wealth of China become ‘alive’, and china prosper.

 

‘I was here’: reflections on travel – Wei Zhou

Why do Chinese people feel an impulse to leave inscriptions at places they visit? This pieces offers historical insights into the development of tourism in China, from old times to the modern period, and the multiple ways in which Chinese travellers like to memorialise their journey to places of cultural significance.

 

Odd expressions of individual rights – Chen Xingzhi

No traveller to China can ignore the odd phenomenon of massive square dancing on public places. Chen Xingzhi explores the psychological and sociological motivations for this new phenomenon: an aging population, a lack of public space – but also, the expression of individual rights in a changing society.

 

Passion is the most important thing in our lives – Li Yinghe

Sociologist Li Yinhe specializes in gender study – but on her blog, she sometimes publishes more personal reflections, like this one, on passion and its role in our psychology. A great mind celebrating the irruption of irrational emotions.

New translations

In this speech on Media Power, media pluralism and media governance, delivered at a forum on internet public communication, cultural analyst and leading journalist Zhang Tianpan reflects on the decline of opinion pieces in China – particularly those advocating for ‘enlignment values’, and proposes a way ahead: increased involvement of opinion writers in civil society, and influence on events themselves.

Reading thread is a new series offering personal journeys through the Marco Polo Project catalogue. This piece on Chinese social media and online expression is the second in a series by Francis Beechinor, from the London University School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Weibo

Originally, I had generic, and ultimately conflicted views of Weibo.

I thought: censorship – it’s a tumble-weed-filled space, empty of opinion. But then I also thought about ease of access and expressive possibilities – and weibo became a fertile land for public debate and discussion.

After spending some time reading and talking about Weibo, I realised how ridiculous my original thinking was.

Yes, there’s people voicing their opinions but this only goes so far, since censorship will occasionally block words like ‘tank’ and ‘one night stand’.  Equally, posts aren’t all philosophising; there’re videos of cats and masses of advertising also.

To celebrate the Marco Polo Festival of Digital Literature, we’ve gathered some fantastic articles on Weibo and Chinese writing online.

Feel free to comment and give us your opinions on China’s biggest social media website.

 

Weibo is a good thing – 微博是一个好东西

by Muran, 22nd July 2013

 

Despite critics of micro-blogging, Muran argues that Weibo contributes to freedom of expression in China, and its format suits the Chinese way of thinking. In particular, it offers people the opportunity to vent their frustration.

This article may help explain why Weibo is seen as a platform for debate.

Where public lose out on citizen participation in other areas, social media offers a place to share and discuss their opinions, at least on certain topics. Do you agree?

 

 

What do we talk about when we talk about social media – 当我们讨论自媒体的时候,我们在讨论什么?

by Liu Xinzheng, April-May 2014

 

In this series of articles, Liu Xinzheng puts Weibo and other forms of ‘self-media’ into context. They highlight the various developments of social media in China, discussing the social and economic impact.

Weibo provides an immediacy which Chinese netizens have never experienced before. It is now possible to talk on a public platform, and receive an instant response.

 

 

The death of online literature – 网络文学之死

by Wang Xinyu, 7th December 2012

 

This article isn’t about Weibo but it shows how Weibo impacted online literature and readers.

The internet is a medium, not a substitute for printed texts. Yet part of adapting to this medium is using a new form of writing more suited to the internet.

Everything needs to be short and snappy. Remind you of anything? *cough – see this article – cough*

Long paragraphs are seen as walls of text on a computer screen and so internet novels have to adjust to suit this – but how much complexity can you express in just a few short sentences?

 

The death and birth of online literature – 网络文学的死与生

by Jianhan Qiushui, 26th November 2013

 

Controversy: this is a reaction to Wang Xinyu’s piece above – with which Jianhan Qiushui largely disagrees. Internet literature isn’t just dying!

Writing online does require forms to adapt yet the internet is an overlapping mass of information. New styles of literature will be produced where others aren’t suited.

Simply distinguishing between print and online isn’t enough as there is so much written material there.

 

 

Is Weibo a populist paradise? – 微博是民粹主义的天堂吗?

by Muran, 6th August 2014

 

Muran comes back again, posing the lovely little question ‘Is Weibo a populist paradise?’ However, this hasn’t been translated yet.

I want to hear what Muran has to say, can you help?

 

 

 

 

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

worship animals

New texts published

Is Weibo a populist paradise – Muran

Some commentators have criticized Chinese micro-blogging Weibo as a platform likely to encourage populism. In this piece, Muran underlines that populist views are only shared by a minority of users, and rejecting the platform on this ground is the sign of a misguided elitist view.

On this topic, you may enjoy reading Muran’s ‘Weibo is a good thing’ (in English) and Yu Ge’s ‘Populism‘ (in Chinese).

 

Important questions on the new silk road – Zheng Yongnan

In line with its growing development China has expressed a desire to ‘go towards the outside’ – but what geopolitical strategy will the country follow to achieve this goal? As the US ally with Japan in the East, what options does China have? In this piece, analyst Zheng Yongnan proposes an exploration of the ‘silk road’ concept, advocating for a closer alliance between China, Russia and Central Asia, based on peaceful trading relationships. This could be an important element in China’s soft power strategy.

 

Food memories: Hot Pot -Bo Bangni

In her series ‘food memories’, Bo Bangni explores the personal and collective history of traditional Chinese dishes – followed by a recipe. This piece on hot pot conjures up memories of a conjugal fight in an artistic family – and a woman’s skill at playing angry housewife.

 

The borders of literary history – Wei Zhou

Three hundred years from now, what will be retained of our present literature? Will people still highly regard what we – or the media – deem to be great works of fiction; or will historians study minor martial arts, self-help, or even cooking books we disregard? Reflecting on a recent History of Uyghur Literature, Wei Zhou proposes to redefine, or at least interrogate, what we deem to be the boundaries of art.

 

From ‘Super Mario’ to ‘Tetris’, the secret of popular games – Xun Kong

As computers evolve, video games have become increasingly complex – with rich graphics and elaborate story-lines. However, some minimalist games still prove extremely popular and addictive. This piece reflects on the success of these simple, minimalist games – from classic Tetris to the more recent ‘Nervous Cat’.

New translations

How is trauma transmitted across generations? Starting with a classroom scene of abuse from a teacher repeating shame techniques learnt as a red guard, ‘How the cultural revolution affected a post-80s such as me’  reflects on the long term consequences of the Cultural Revolution in the Chinese psyche. This is the first completed translation by our translator Abukamil – whom we would like to thank and congratulate.

People, within and without China, often like to emphasize its exceptionalism, and unique characteristics of China’s culture. ‘Just how special are we proposes an original approach to the question. Starting with a theoretical look at the opposition between pluralism and universalism, the piece argues that excessive emphasis on Chinese only characteristics may hide a secret danger, that of keeping China outside of universal values; or as Guo Yuhua articulates it ‘are Chinese people really people’?

In China, poetry is not a marginal genre.

In 2011, Xi’an poet YiSha circulated one poem a day from various online poetry forums on his micro-blogging account. Under the name ‘poems for the new century’, the project attracted over four million readers. The collection was published in book format, and the project has now become ongoing.

On August 28, the Marco Polo Project will invite Yisha to join in conversation with Melbourne’s twitter poet Katie keys – with poet-translator Ouyang Yu acting as a mediator between them – and discuss online reading communities, serial reading through social media, and poetic possibilities of the internet. A rare opportunity to understand poetry from a Chinese and Australian perspective.

Below is a poem from the first year of ‘Poems for the New Century’, translated on the Marco Polo Project. You might also wish to read the foreword to ‘Poems for the New Century’.

Mary’s love

Mary is her English name, director at my friend’s firm,

An exquisite and enchanting face, faint smell of fragrance

Scent of allure but with good taste. Graduated from prestigious university, elegant.

4-inch-heels, upholds her career

Rise above the others. Working like hell, when wining and dining as well.

Downing glass after glass with no paling face, or force it all out in the toilet once drunk

On she drinks. Until the opponent

Shows sign of weakness. One deal after another, closed right from there.

I admit that I’m drawn to her a little.

Once after drinking, I said to her boss with twisted tongue.

My friend, you’re so blessed to have such a great employee.

Such a beauty, making money for you.

More than an employee of mine, my friend said laughing.

She has been my secret lover, behind her husband’s back.

I can fuck her anytime I want.

Just imagine, such a beauty, working her ass off.

fucks like a bunny, never demands a pay raise,

isn’t it too good to be true?

I was stunned and asked, “how did you make that happen?”

My friend smiled wryly, “no big deal. I just tell her time and again,

‘I love you,’ and she actually believes it.”

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

Beijing spirit

New texts published

City spirit, empty words – Zhang Ming

Chinese cities are launching a new wave of urban sloganeering, led by Beijing’s ‘spirit of the city’ campaign – Zhang Ming gives a critical opinion on the practice. This text has already been translated, and is already available in English!

 

Paper media is in a tough situation indeed – Zhu Xuedong

To what extent will the shift to digital affect Chinese paper media? All industries have a life cycle, and without innovation, paper media may not survive the growth of the internet. If you’re interested in this debate, you might wish to read our recently completed translation of ‘Traditional paper media shouldn’t let itself collapse‘.

 

What does internet pluralism amount to? – Muran

How does the value of pluralism, promoted by the internet, affect the current status quo between ideologies and factions in contemporary China? A reflection on freedom, nationalism and the New Left, as informed by technology.

 

The Spirit of Shenzhen – Lan Ran

A writer’s look at China’s youngest mega-city. Shenzhen emerged out of nothing 30 years ago, but now counts over eight million people, and ranks among the country’s top five cities. How can you define Shenzhen’s spiritual qualities? With a particular look at bookstores and people’s contemplative habits, this piece will help you better understand this Southern metropolis

If you like this piece, or plan travel in Guangdong, you may be interested in looking at ‘Guangzhou, desert for others, paradise for us‘.

 

Songs from the camp – Zhou Zhixing

What would life in a Chinese army camp be like, and what memories would flow years after? Discover the personal experience of a Chinese soldier, and the songs they sing down at the camp!

 

New translations

 

In ‘Reflections on the Social Security Issue’, public intellectual Su Shi offers a few suggestions for improving the Chinese social security system, and in passing, underlines some dangers of the status quo – including that it encourages crime.

The death and birth of online literature‘ is a reply to an article announcing ‘the death of online literature (available in translation) – Jianhan Qiushui argues that, actually internet literature is getting ahead, because stories circulate across media (TV and film, books and games), and the internet is the key channel to access these. Here is the original piece

 

This is the first post in our new ‘Reading thread‘ series. Reading thread bring together pieces on a similar topic from the Marco Polo Project catalogue, inviting you on a guided journey through Chinese writing, and offering an insider’s, original view of contemporary China. You might also be interested in our weekly Digest, presenting the latest pieces published and translated on Marco Polo Project.

in the arcade

China’s urbanisation is creating an unexpected by-product: aspirational hipsters. Yet these emerging trendy youths, the Shamate, look very different to their skinny-jeaned western counterparts.

The Shamate work at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronic parts manufacturer. Western hipsters work in coffee shops.

The Shamate blow-dry their hair in reaction to migrating across a country the size of Europe. Western hipsters buy a fixie bike because finding a job is hard.

We’ve found some fantastic articles on how China is dealing with these non-mainstream migratory youths. Leave your comments at the bottom: if you listen to music we-won’t-have-heard-of-yet or love Instagram, tell us why.

 

“杀马特”:文化贫困产物 – “ShaMaTe”, a product of cultural poverty

by Zhang Tianpan, 11th March 2013

 

Who are the Shamate, and where do they come from?

In this piece, Zhang Tianpan discusses the snobbish way in which Shamate are talked about in society and compares them against another intriguing sub-culture, the ‘fresh young things’.

Perhaps this is China’s version of mods and rockers; goths and punks; trendies and indies?

 

你们能指责80后吗? – Can you accuse the post-eighties generation?

by Xi Mu, 11th October 2012.

 

Some people describe the post-eighties young people as China’s ‘beat generation’. They enjoy a reformed country but don’t care about politics. Lifestyle and consumption matters more to them than democracy.

These youths are seen as ignorant, but is that really fair? Why do you think the Shamate spend their time blow-drying their hair yet aren’t so politically involved?

The Shamate are possibly part of a stream of migrants who cannot think of politics, their priority is assimilating into their new urban homes.

 

中国式大迁徙:何处安放我们的故乡– Great migration China-style: where is our hometown?  

by Zhang Tianpan, 17th February 2014

 

In this sad piece, Zhang Tianpan takes a completely different tone. Not only are the Shamate stuck between the cities and countryside, but the very idea of a hometown is equally strained.

This article highlights how China’s incessant skyscraper building puts the country’s rural areas on the spot. China’s traditions are really being tested.

Migrants are blurring the lines between urban and rural. Are Chinese cities experiencing an identity crisis? Zhang Tianpan provides food for thought.

 

有一种空虚叫做农村 – There is a void called the countryside

by Zhang Zejia, 18th December 2012

 

Where are these Shamate coming from, I hear you ask? Look no further, as Zhang Zejia describes his impressions on a visit home.

Living in towns populated by children and grandparents as parents search for work in faraway cities, it’s no wonder why these youths want to leave home.

What stands out for me in this article is how impoverished these rural people are. Surrounded by huge skyscrapers, branded stores and restaurants, I feel I didn’t fully experience this poverty whilst living in Beijing.

 

 

In the following articles, Wang Xiaoping and Duyuan Jushi both react to the Shamate text posted by Zhang Tianpan above. The translations are unfinished, why don’t you keep this discussion going and translate the articles yourselves?

 

山河破碎风飘絮,身世浮沉雨打萍 – Reflecting on the “ShaMaTe” aesthetics

by Wang Xiaoping, 13th March 2013 

一个“杀马特”的独白 – A monologue on “ShaMaTe”

by Duyuan Jushi, 14th March 2013

 

This post was written by Francis Beechinor, from London University School of Asian and African Studies. 

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

princesses

New texts published

Can friendship last between women – Shui Muding

Writer Shui Muding explores the meaning of the word ‘guimi’, an intimate and exclusive affection between young women. Deep friendship between women is certainly possible, she says, but the very close-knit, intimate feelings of teenage years cannot last.

Dancing on the street” from collective to public space – Zhang Tianpan

Cultural analyst Zhang Tianpan explores the new phenomenon of dancing on the square in China, under a particular angle: the sense of public space ownership, and the constitution of a community.

Zhang Tianpan will speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival – book your tickets now!

Food memories: bamboo shoots – Bo Bangni

In her series ‘food memories’, Bo Bangni explores the personal and collective history of certain dishes – followed by a recipe. This week, the story of a ‘fat girl’ at a restaurant who lost a considerable amount of weight on a panda diet, eating only bamboo shoots.

You can’t regret a renovation – China30s

China30s is a Shanghai-based magazine offering portraits of alternative Chinese innovators from the ‘sandwich generation’, born between the late 70s and the mid-80s. Considering the high cost of land in Shanghai, how to build a satisfying little nest? Young architect Ying Chaojun caused a lot of buzz on the internet, and attracted many viewers, with the renovation project he conducted on his own apartment: ’40 square meters, 100,000 RMB, 150 days’. Apart from amazing ideas for renovation, he wants to advocate for everyone’s capacity to lead a better life.

Donning the cloak of wisdom – Xin Lijian

What happens when business people meet Buddhist monks? What can we learn from Buddhism? In this piece, Xin Lijian reflects on spiritual pursuits in contemporary life, and the particular role that Buddhism plays in a secularized China.

New translations completed

In ‘Traditional paper media shouldn’t let itself collapse, journalist Wei Yingjie calls on the danger of crying wolf – even if the new media is challenging, the transition must be managed

’How will the book review industry get healthier? is the last piece in a series about Chinese book review ethics by Zhang Tianpan. Here, he invites media, publishers and reviewers to consider ways ahead for a healthier environment: media to maintain independent judgement, publishers to resist short-term commercial pursuits that affect book quality,

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

P1060765

New texts published

Wu Xia: if you do nothing, what right do you have to complain? – Bottle Dream

Bottle Dream is a Guangzhou based organisation that promotes the work of young Chinese change-makers. This piece, introduces Wu Xia co-founded a Chinese NGO offering alternative education, that proposes to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence.

 The build-up of Hong Kong Identity – Charlie 13

This piece by a Hong Kong blogger takes a historical look at the development of the city and its special cultural and cultural characteristics – challenging a few myths along the way.

Populism – Yu Ge

A regular blogger from the ‘Consensus Network’ explores the concept of populism, in a Chinese and international perspective.

Pregnant Ghost – Wang Youmei / Yisha

For a year, poet Yisha collected poem from online forums around China, and circulated them, one a day, on his micro-blogging account, as part of a project called ‘Poems for the new century’. Pregnant ghost describes the spooky encounter with a pregnant woman at a tombstone. 

Is that how it is? – Zhang Jiajia

Zhang Jiajia became a literary sensation in China after circulating bedtimes love stories on his weibo account – readers from the post-80s generation found echoes to their own lives in the patterns of emotions that he paints in these moving, often melancholy short pieces. “Is that how it is?” tells the story of a break up among former high school lovers – an unwanted pregnancy, and a failed marriage.

News translations completed

Kenny Choi, founder of Bottle Dream and Guangzhou’s first co-working community ‘Yi-gather’ shares his social entrepreneurship journey in ‘Why did I open a co-working space?’ 

Each year for Spring festival, crowds fight for limited tickets. In ‘It’s hard to get a ticket, so when will it get better? , economic and financial commentator Feng Qingyan takes a look at this complex phenomenon from multiple angles – infrastructure, policy, service-design, and the frustrations of everyday people.

Li Yinhe, sociologist and specialist of gender issues, shares regular posts on her blog about more psychological and philosophical topics – such at the importance of ‘Passion for those willing to lead a satisfying life.