LARB has published Qiu Xiaolong’s 裘小龙Poems of Inspector Chen, the poetry of the fictional hero of Qiu’s Detective Chen novels:
Chen Cao started writing during his college years in the early eighties, a period sometimes described as a “golden” one for modern Chinese poetry. After the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, a considerable number of young people burst confidently onto the literary scene. But Chen is more of an accidental poet. While majoring in English and American literature, he studied with the well-known poet and critic Bian Zhilin (1910-2000), and handed in several pieces written as a sort of homework. With Bian’s encouragement, Chen had them published in Poetry and other magazines. In the meantime, he started translating T. S. Eliot and other Western poets, which added to his visibility in the circle. While doing research for his thesis on Eliot, he fell in love with a young librarian named Ling in Beijing Library. Some of his early poems turned out to be idealistic in spite of the modernist influence.
Qiu Xiaolong (裘小龙 ) began writing poems in Chinese in 1978, when he studied under the well-known Chinese poet, Bian Zhilin (卞之琳). After moving to the U.S., Qiu shifted to writing in English, and while he has continued to write and publish poetry, he has become a popular novelist, with eight novels in the internationally best-selling “Inspector Chen” series, whose protagonist is a poet. Qiu has a collection of short stories, and several collections of classic Chinese poetry in translation as well. In this conversation, we talk about his background in modern Chinese poetry, his own ongoing dialog with Classical Chinese and his relationship to his poet-protagonist Inspector Chen. Qiu’s poetry is featured in the current issue of Chinese Literature Today magazine. This recording took place at the Montford Inn in Norman, Oklahoma in 2012.