MANG KE, PEN NAME OF JIANG SHIWEI (1950— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

MANG KE, PEN NAME OF JIANG SHIWEI (1950— ). Poet and painter. Born in Shenyang and raised in Beijing, Mang Ke was sent to rural Hebei at the age of 16, riding in the same horse carriage with Duo Duo. It was in the countryside that he began to write poetry. In 1976, Mang Ke returned to Beijing and two years later joined forces with other young poets including Bei Dao and Duo Duo to found Jintian (Today), an important venue for experimental poetry, which would become known as Misty poetry. Later on, as most of his friends and colleagues settled down one after another, Mang Ke continued his vagabond life in Beijing, making short and frequent trips abroad to participate in poetry festivals. Some 30 years after he published his first poem, Mang Ke turned to painting and achieved remarkable success in his new medium.

Mang Ke is a natural poet who relies almost exclusively on instinct rather than on learning. Abundant with natural imagery and pulsating with the rhythm of the earth and waters, many of his poems reflect his years in the countryside, which inspired him and nurtured his romantic view of life. Even his political poems, such as “Yangguang zhong de xiangrikui” (The Sunflower in the Sunlight) and “Tiankong” (The Sky), which boldly challenge absolutism and ideological tyranny, exude the smell and the sound of nature. Other than poetry, Mang Ke has written a novel based on his experience in rural Hebei as well as many essays, including his most recent work, Qiao! Zhe xie ren (Memories), which reminisces about his generation and some of its vivid characters. See also CULTURAL REVOLUTION.