SHIZHI, PEN NAME OF GUO LUSHENG (1948— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

SHIZHI, PEN NAME OF GUO LUSHENG (1948— ). Poet. Born into a military family, Shizhi began writing verses when he was in the third grade. Considered the most influential poet in the underground poetry movement during the Cultural Revolution, Shizhi expressed the spirit of defiance as early as the late 1960s. A forerunner of post-Mao poetry, he has influenced Bei Dao, Yan Li, and many others of the Misty generation,. His exuberant poems, such as “Xiangxin weilai” (Trust the Future), “Yu’er sanbuqu” (Fish Trilogy), and “Si dian ling ba fen de Beijing” (Beijing at 4:08) were hand-copied and circulated widely among the educated youth, showing them the dark realities of the era and giving them hope for a better future. In 1973, Shizhi was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has spent much of his time institutionalized since the 1980s. He began using the pen name Shizhi (forefinger) in 1978, signifying his indifference to the public’s finger pointing because of his mental illness. He continued to write after being institutionalized, and his poems appeared in the underground poetry journal Today, founded by Bei Dao, Mang Ke, and others. He became a member of the Chinese Association of Writers in 1997 while still in the Beijing No. 3 Social Welfare House, a mental ward outside the city. Shizhi attributed his intellectual and political independence to his illness: “Since I wear the hat of being insane, I can do whatever I want to: to be absolutely independent in thought and spirit, like a horse in the sky traveling at its own speed and direction without any restraint, all because I am insane.” He is indeed known as the “mad poet.”