GU CHENG (1956—1993)
GU CHENG (1956—1993). Poet. Born in Beijing, Gu Cheng began writing poetry when he was a child living on a remote farm in Shandong where his family, exiled from the capital, took residence at the time. He was brought to prominence in the 1980s when his first collection of poetry, Hei yanjin (Eyes of Darkness), was published. A member of the Misty poetry group, Gu was known, for his brilliant lyricism and complex metaphors. Called a “poet of fairy tales,” he created in his early poems a poetic persona who looked at the world through the innocent but sorrowful eyes of a child. From the mid-1980s, his poems became increasingly experimental and their meanings harder to fathom.
Gu was invited to the West for a cultural exchange in 1987, and the following year he took a visiting position at Auckland University in New Zealand. After the Chinese government’s crackdown on the Tian’anmen Prodemocracy Movement in 1989, Gu and his wife decided to stay in New Zealand; Gu quit his teaching job and retreated to a remote island. In 1992, he visited Europe and taught at a German university. In 1993, he committed suicide after killing his wife. He left behind a large number of poems, essays, drawings, calligraphies, and a posthumously published novel Ying’er (Ying’er: The Kingdom of Daughters), coauthored with his wife, which is a disjointed account of his infatuation with a young woman and his life after he left China.