Shi Zhi has been a major force in Chinese poetry since 1968, when several of his poems were circulated as secret handwritten manuscripts in the midst of China’s Cultural Revolution. He gave voice to the aspirations of dispirited youth, and although once relegated to obscurity, he is today celebrated as one of China’s most important cultural influences, having spawned the modern Chinese poetry revolution of the 1980s. This bilingual collection of Shi Zhi’s most significant poems, featuring an afterword by the poet himself, is the first book-length publication of his work in English.
Born as Guo Lusheng in 1948, at the height of the Chinese Civil War, Shi Zhi joined the People’s Liberation Army at the age of twenty-three. Discharged early, he entered into a period of severe depression and spent much of the next three decades living in mental hospitals under harsh conditions. Taking the pen name of Shi Zhi, meaning “index finger,” to evoke the image of people pointing at his back, he continued to write poetry through these tumultuous years, chronicling his journey from the heights of fame to the depths of institutionalism and ultimately to a final redemptive return to society in 2005. The voice of this besieged poet, burdened with exile and illness, captured the spirit of his generation and now inspires young readers.
By presenting Shi Zhi’s poems in chronological order, Winter Sun
allows readers to appreciate the evolution of his poetry from his earliest work to his most recent poems. Masterfully translated by Jonathan Stalling, and with an introduction by leading poetry critic Zhang Qinqua, this landmark collection ensures that Shi Zhi’s poetry—so important to Chinese readers during the most challenging of times—will engage the hearts and minds of new readers the world over for years to come.
“To read Winter Sun from cover to cover is to travel on a journey that tests one’s fiber, for this is a collection that exhibits a combination of innate talent and acquired skill, a work that reveals suffering and joy in an often incomprehensible world, a work that ultimately rewards the reader with the final, redemptive voice of a poet who has gone right to the edge of the abyss and returned to inscribe it with palpable skill.”—Christopher Lupke, editor of Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese Poetry