Books for Independent Thinkers

Bloodaxe Books

Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry

by W. N. Herbert, Yang Lian

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  • Paperback
  • 360 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-852248-95-6
  • Published April 2012
  • Publisher Bloodaxe Books


This anthology is the record of a revolution in Chinese poetry. As the Cultural Revolution gave way to the post-Mao era – years of political turmoil, economic boom and the return of Hong Kong – the present period has been one of extraordinary and deeply problematic growth. Chinese poets, driven by alienation, trauma and exile, have responded with one of the most thorough and exciting experiments in world poetry.

Jade Ladder shows authoritatively for the first time in English the diversity of Chinese poetry as it renegotiates its relationship with Western modernist and postmodernist poetry, and re-engages with its Classical heritage. Misty, post-Misty, Fourth Generation; publication in samizdat, publication in exile, publication on the internet – in a nation of billions, it sometimes seems that there are a million ways to write poetry.

This selection provides a concise series of perspectives on a proliferating scene. It focusses on key figures and key poems. It moves beyond the lyric to showcase an astonishing diversity of genres including narrative poetry, neo-Classical writing, the sequence, experimental poetry and the long poem. Through detailed introductions, it examines how contemporary poetry grew from both the fertile Classical tradition and the stony ground of the Communist period, only to rewrite that tradition, and resist that regime.

Jade Ladder is the most comprehensive single volume guide to what has been happening and what is happening now in a culture of undeniably global significance. It is indispensable reading for anyone with an interest in the future not just of China, but of poetry.

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Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry