ZANG KEJIA (1905—2004)
ZANG KEJIA (1905—2004). Poet. Zang Kejia was one of the most celebrated poets in Communist China. He came from an educated family in Shandong and received a traditional early education in his home village. Later, when he studied in the provincial capital, Zang was exposed to modern literature and was inspired to write his own vernacular poetry. In his youth, Zang was a fervent believer in radical social change. In 1926, he made his way to Wuhan, the center of revolution at the time. Ziyou de xiezhao (Portraiture of Freedom), a collection of poems, reflects this critical moment in his life, as well as in the nation’s history. When the revolution failed, Zang returned to his hometown. From 1930 to 1934, he studied at Qingdao University and met many well-known writers, including Wen Yiduo, Shen Congwen, and Lao She, who were on the faculty. Zang benefited most from Wen’s guidance. In 1933, Zang published his first poetry collection, Laoyin (Branding). The following three years saw the publication of three more of his collections: Zui’e de heishou (The Evil Black Hand), Ziji de xiezhao (Self-Portrait), and Yunhe (The Great Canal). These poems reveal the conditions of the countryside and the sufferings of the peasants and expose corruption within the Nationalist government. Most of them are short poems written in a powerful, vivid, colloquial language, representing some of the poet’s best work. During the Sino-Japanese War, Zang joined the military as a civilian staff member. He wrote many poems to encourage the Chinese people in their struggle against Japanese aggression.
In 1942, Zang arrived in Chongqing, the war capital, where he continued to produce many collections of poems, including Nitu de ge (Song of the Soil) and a long poem “Gushu de huaduo” (The Flowers of an Ancient Tree). In 1945, a few days after he met Mao Zedong, who came to Chongqing for a meeting with Chiang Kai-shek, Zang wrote a poem in praise of the Communist leader: “Mao Zedong, ni shi yike daxing” (Mao Zedong, You Are a Big Star), which was published in New China Daily, the official newspaper of the Communists. He wrote many more adulating political poems after 1949. Within the Communist government, Zang acted as one of the enforcers of its policy on literature in his position as party secretary of the Chinese Writers’ Association and the chief editor of Shi kan, a poetry journal.