A Contemporary Pastoral Poet of China, Zhang Lian

translated and with an introduction by Keming Liu

Zhang Lian (张联) was born in 1967 into a poor farming family in Ningxia province, a barely habitable region of north central China bordering Inner Mongolia. A potato farmer struggling to earn the equivalent of about $480 per year, he turned to poetry to describe the harsh beauty of his environment and the daily struggle to eke out an existence. In 2000 he borrowed money from friends to print and hand-sell his first book of poems; by 2012 he had been chosen as one of the “Ten Best Rural Poets” by the Chinese Writers Association and published his eighth collection. Zhang’s work has appeared in more than one hundred anthologies and been translated into several languages, now including English.

For this volume, noted translator Keming Liu selected one hundred poems, chiefly representing Zhang’s multifaceted perceptions of his world at dusk, when farmer and shepherd are blessed with a moment to daydream. Facing the “same” twilight each day, Zhang Lian sees different colors, pictures, and prospects, whose impressions he harnesses to generate images that are vastly diverse. “They record the path I trek, the scenery I see each day, my feelings and emotions at the time, and man’s struggle to battle hardship and achieve happiness; to ponder life, vitality, nature, and the environment.” Although Zhang’s work follows a pastoral tradition, the authenticity of his voice comes from real experience. His poems capture both the hopelessness and hopefulness of his austere world, and a deep belief in the redemptive power of words.

Keming Liu is professor of linguistics and literature, and former Chairperson of English at the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers campus. She serves as the director of the Confucius Institute and also director of the Sino-American International Education Exchange Institute for Science and Humanities. An internationally recognized translator and scholar, Dr. Liu’s publications include Voices of the Fourth Generation: China's Poets Today and Adult ESL: Politics, Pedagogy, and Participation in Classroom and Community Programs.

256 pp, 6 x 9 / Soft
Chinese Poetry / World Literature
ISBN: 978-1-891640-02-3