Back to Chang'an. A polemic within the “popular” (minjian) camp at the beginning of the 21st century

Miguel Angel Petrecca


This article analyzes a controversy that took place in the field of Chinese poetry in 2002, as a consequence of the appearance on the internet site Shi jianghu (诗江湖) of a series of poems by the poet Yu Jian 于坚, a key figure of the so-called “spoken language poetry” (口语诗歌). Shi jianghu (literally "Poetry Rivers and Lakes") was the name of an Internet site and forum created in 2000 by poets of the "lower body" (xiabanshen 下半身) poetry group. Certain participants of this site saw these poems as a betrayal and denounced a conservative turn in Yu Jian's work. It is in the context of this controversy that Yu Jian publishes on the same site a letter addressed to another central figure of the poetry scene, Yi Sha 伊沙, where he declares “to have taken off the avant-garde T-shirt” (wo diudiao le xianfeng pai limao我丢掉了先锋派礼帽). We will then focus on this polemic and try to understand the reactions aroused and the issues at stake. To do so, it will also be necessary to make a brief review of the evolution of Yu Jian's poetic thought.


Yu Jian, minjian, Chinese Poetry.


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