Birgit Linder on Shi Zhi’s Winter Sun

200Modern Chinese Literature & Culture has published Birgit Linder’s review of Winter Sun: Poems, translated by Jonathan Stalling. Here’s how Linder begins her review:

Winter Sun is a bilingual collection of poetry by one of China’s most widely known contemporary poets. Translated by Jonathan Stalling, it marks the first collection of Shi Zhi’s 食指 poetry in English, and it is an important addition to Chinese literary history and the study of contemporary Chinese poetry in translation. The roughly eighty poems in the book span the years from 1965 to 2005 and give a comprehensive overview of the work and life of a Shi Zhi, who first came to fame as an underground poet during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and has continued with his work until now. In addition, the chronologically arranged collection offers a twleve-page introduction by literary scholar Zhang Qinghua 张清华, a “Letter to My American Friends” by the poet, and a “Translator’s Afterword” by Jonathan Stalling that explains his choice of free verse translation over a more formal approach.

Shi Zhi (Index finger), whose real name is Guo Lusheng 郭路生, was born in 1948 in Shandong province. During the Cultural Revolution, Shi Zhi was widely admired for his daring and persistent poetry that, with a few exceptions, circumvented prescribed ideological content and conventional revolutionary imagery. Following his premature retirement from the army in 1971, he experienced a prolonged period of silence and suicidal depression and was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1973. He spent many years in a mental hospital, until he was released in 2005. Shi Zhi lives with his second wife in Beijing and continues to write poetry.