From the Beijing Spring of 1979 until the student uprisings of 1989, a new generation of poets flourished in China. Influenced by contemporary Western poets and Imagist techniques, the Misty poets challenged the Maoist artistic ideology of social realism. Their political protest and social commentary manifest largely through obscure, hermetic images and metaphors, a practice that resulted in the designation “Misty Poets.” The poets’ celebration of subjective experiences and individuality ushered in a new era of artistic expression. The literary journal Jintian (Today) [1978–1980], founded by Bei Dao and Mang Ke, was a nexus around which the Misty poets congregated. Many of the Misty poets have been in exile since the massacre in Tianenman Square in 1989.

Some poets of the Misty School include Bei Dao, Yang Lian, Shu Ting, Jiang He, Gu Cheng, Duo Duo, Mang Ke, Chou Ping, Xi Chuan, Zhang Zhen, Tang Yaping, Fei Ye, Bei Ling, and Ha Jin.

For further reading, consider these anthologies: Out of the Howling Storm, edited by Tony Barnstone (Wesleyan University Press, 1993); A Splintered Mirror, translated by Donald Finkel (North Point Press, 1991); and Poems for the Millennium, edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris (University of California Press, 1995).

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