Shu Ting

Shu Ting
(née Gong Peiyu)
b. 1952, Futian
Shu Ting is an important and influential poet especially in the years immediately after the Cultural Revolution Her love poems in particular enjoyed a large readership in the early 1980s. Shu spent three years working in the countryside and eight years in a light-bulb factory before becoming a professional writer in 1980. Shu’s first published poem, ‘To the Oak Tree’ (Zhi xiangshu, 1978), appeared in Today (Jintian), an underground journal run by the dissident poet Bei Dao. Since then her name has become entwined with Bei Dao and his associates, known as the Misty poets (Menglong shiren; see Misty poetry). Like most of these poets, Shu rejects the formulaic and slogan-like language as well as the stereotypical feelings that characterize much of socialist realistic poetry. She digs into the predicament of human existence, for example ‘On the Assembly Line’ (Liushuixian), and at the same time attempts to give voice to personalized feelings.
For the most part, Shu Ting is read as a ‘female’ poet in the sense of being a poet who explores sexual difference. ‘To the Oak Tree’ in particular describes an awakening of sexual consciousness expressed in the search for the ideal male figure. Shu’s construction of this imaginative figure is the first contemporary projection of self-identity by a Chinese woman writer. It is revisionist and subversive of the desexualized image of male and female revolutionaries represented in the didactic works of the Mao era (see sexual attitudes) ‘To the Oak Tree’ marks a transition from Maoist politics to a burgeoning interest in the variety of human experience in the post-Mao era.
Chen, Xiaomei (1995). Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kubin, Wolfgang (1988). ‘Writing with your Body: Literature as a Wound—Remarks on the Poetry of Shu Ting’. Modern Chinese Literature 4.1/2:149–62.
Shu, Ting (1994). Selected Poems. An Authorized Collection. Trans. Eva Hung. Hong Kong: Renditions.
——(1995). Mist of My Heart: Selected Poems of Shu Ting. Trans. Gordon Osing and De-an Wu Swihart. Beijing: Panda Books.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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