Duo duo
Duo Duo or Duoduo is the pen name of contemporary Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, Li Shizheng (栗世征), a prominent exponent of the "Misty" or "Obscure" school of modern Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...



Duo Duo was born in Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. As a youth in the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, he was sent down to the countryside in Baiyangdian (白洋淀), where he began reading and writing poetry. Several of his schoolmates would also become famous as members of the underground poetry movement described as "Misty" by the authorities: Bei Dao
Bei Dao
Bei Dao is the pseudonym of Chinese poet Zhao Zhenkai . He was born in Beijing, his pseudonym was chosen because he came from the north and because of his preference for solitude...

, Gu Cheng
Gu Cheng
Gu Cheng was a famous Chinese modern poet, essayist, and novelist. He was a prominent member of the "Misty Poets", a group of Chinese modernist poets.-Biography:...

 and Mang Ke
Mang Ke
Mang Ke , born in 1951, is a prominent Chinese poet and co-founder of the underground literary journal Today, which appeared irregularly between 1978 and 1980 before being shut down by the Chinese Government....


Duo Duo's early poems are short and elliptical, in which some see barbed political references. In his early poems, there are numerous intertextual links to Western poets such as Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

, Marina Tsvetaeva
Marina Tsvetaeva
Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva was a Russian and Soviet poet. Her work is considered among some of the greatest in twentieth century Russian literature. She lived through and wrote of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed it. In an attempt to save her daughter Irina from...

 and Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. Born in Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College, Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a professional poet and writer...

. His style underwent a shift in the mid-1980s to longer, more philosophical poetry. In contrast to the clipped, image-based style of Bei Dao
Bei Dao
Bei Dao is the pseudonym of Chinese poet Zhao Zhenkai . He was born in Beijing, his pseudonym was chosen because he came from the north and because of his preference for solitude...

, Duo Duo tended to use longer, more flowing lines, and paid more attention to sound and rhetoric. Some of his poems border on the essayistic, such as the 1984 Lessons also translated as Instruction (诲教), which spoke for China's "lost generation" as much as Bei Dao's Answer.

In 1989, Duo Duo having been witness to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, as fortune had it was booked on a plane on 4 June to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 where he was due to give a poetry reading at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. He went on to live for many years in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. His poetic language went through another shift, taking up the themes of exile and rootlessness. In the absence of a Chinese-speaking community, Duo Duo began to use the Chinese language
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 more self-consciously. Sometimes his poems border on the impenetrable yet are highly effective, such as the poem Watching the Sea (看海).

In 2004, Duo Duo returned to China from the Netherlands where he was honoured both by a younger generation of poets and by the literary establishment. He now teaches at Hainan University
Hainan University
Hainan University -History:The original Hainan university was established in 1983. It was a key provincial university. On August 14, 2007, the Ministry of Education approved the merger of the South China University of Tropical Agriculture and Hainan University merged into a single which kept the...

 on the tropical Hainan Island where the Chinese poet Su Dongpo (Su Shi, 1037–1101) was once exiled by the Chinese authorities.


In 2009, a jury representing nine countries selected Duo Duo as the 2010 winner of the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Neustadt International Prize for Literature
The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award for literature sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and its international literary publication, World Literature Today. It is widely considered to be the most prestigious international literary prize after the Nobel Prize in...

, making him the award's 21st laureate and the first Chinese author to win the prize.


The author and academic Gregory B. Lee has translated many of Duo Duo's poems into English, and has written about the poet's work, most recently in his book China's Lost Decade.

External links

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