ZHANG ZAO (1962— )
ZHANG ZAO (1962— ). Poet. One of the main representatives of the Generation III poets, Zhang Zao majored in English at Hunan Teachers’ University and later received a master’s degree from Sichuan Foreign Languages Institute, where he found himself in the midst of a lively circle of young poets and he began to write. Soon after he published his poems in 1979, Zhang was touted as one of the most gifted young poets of the time. While many of his fellow Generation III poets went southward to join the entrepreneurial frenzy, Zhang, driven by the same sense of restlessness, chose to go abroad in 1986 instead. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Tubingen University in Germany, where he is now teaching. His success as a poet has much to do with his unique skill in creating aestheticism in the context of routine modern life. “Jing zhong” (In the Mirror), a short poem about beauty, idealism, memory, and regrets, is characteristic of this poetic vision. Though experimental in nature, Zhang’s poems possess a quality of elegance. His language is deceptively plain and straightforward, but his imageries jump and skip, leaving room for the reader’s imagination. His themes and images often come from classical literature, both Chinese and foreign. The poet persona acts as if he is an observer of these ancient literary scenes. Zhang is unique among contemporary Chinese poets in that he is conversant in several foreign languages, including English, German, French, and Russian, allowing him to have direct access to these literary traditions. Among the many awards he has received are the 1999 Anne Kao Prize for Lyric Poetry and the 1998—1999 Poetry Prize sponsored by the literary magazine Zuojia (Writers).