CHEN DONGDONG (1961— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

CHEN DONGDONG (1961— ). Poet. Born in Shanghai, Chen Dongdong graduated from Shanghai Normal University with a B.A. in Chinese literature. Considered a representative of the Generation III poets and often put in the camp of xueyuan pai (academic school), a loosely connected group based in college campuses that includes Xi Chuan, Zang Di, and Wang Jiaxin, Chen has worked as a teacher, an editor for opera and poetry journals, and a website designer among other careers. He began writing at the age of 20 and is known for having invented the terms xiju gan (comic effect) and lishi changjing hua (dramatized history). In poems such as “Xi ju” (Comedy) and “Chuntian: dubai he changing” (Spring: Monologues and Scenes), he creates a dreamy, dramatized world constructed with exquisite images, descriptions of scenes, and dialogues. The measured rhythm, refined musicality, and elegant sensuality that characterize Chen’s work are reminiscent of classical Chinese poetry. In “Shuzhuang jing” (Mirror) and “Dian deng” (Lighting the Lamp), the poet sets up vignettes of domestic intimacy, similar to those found in Song dynasty Ci poetry. Chen’s experiment with dramatization and ancient Chinese materials is most evident in “Liu shui” (Flowing Water), a long poem inspired by an ancient melody based on a legendary tale about music. Among the Generation III poets, Chen is believed to have the most classical sensitivity; however, the interplay between reality and imagination in his works is undoubtedly modern, and the syntax of his poems, along with his unconventional use of punctuation, reveals an experimental poet at work.