Shu Ting presented by Grandpa Dinosaur


Shu Ting
presented by Grandpa Dinosaur

I make it a point to write about writers, directors, poets, artists while they are still alive. I also make a big effort to write about people of colour who write. Shu Ting is both a person of colour and poet. Shu Ting is the pseudonym of Gong Peiyu, a Chinese poet born in the year 1952 in the Jinjiang, Fujian province.

She had to work grimy factory jobs, construction work, textile work, cement, made light bulbs. Very unglamorous, that’s why I like her. I’ve been having a hard time connecting to other artists and poets because their experiences and problems don’t even register with mine. If you don’t know, I HATE Margret Atwood. I’ve read enough of her work that I can say I hate all of her writing. While working in these factories she wrote poetry. I find this really inspiring, as she has had to write under such duress. I can’t even compare how the factories in China are with the floors of the Sweatshops I grew up in, cutting the squares of fabric into toys.

She was in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution from 1969 to 1973, so from when she was seventeen years old till she was twenty one. That’s period in a person’s life when you’re really transitioning and moulding one’s adult feet. I can’t even imagine how her life was during the Cultural Revolution. With more research on the net, I learned it was due to her father being accused of non-conforming to the current ideology. You can read more about the Cultural Revolution on Wikipedia, because I don’t have the stones to do it myself.

Shu Ting was the only woman in “The Misty School” of poetry. She and her peers began to publish their emotional works in Misty journal Jintian (Today) in 1979. Her writing was very non conformist and eventually she and her peers came under harsh criticism due to the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign in the 1980’s to the point that it caused her to cease writing for a period of time.

Shu Ting has won two awards in the National Poetry Award (1981 and 1983) and 1983 came onto the Fujian Branch of Writers’ Association and now is a deputy chairperson. She continues to write and inspire my writing, art and life.

Please write back with feedback if you would like me to continue with a series like this chronicling poetry, writing and art from people of Colour.

I will now share a powerful poem by Shu Ting from “A Book of Luminous Things:” An International Anthology compiled by Czeslaw Milosz. I presented this poem orally in front of a poetry class in college. I will rip the whole page word for word, but I encourage you to buy the book as I hope it will become a daily staple reading before you rest as it is mine.

Shu Ting

This is a very ambiguous poem about something know to many people in this century, an ideological commitment to a cause, to a party, to a movement. One has to cope with not on the inertia of the world but also with one’s own doubt. Is the voice in this poem speaking for moving forward in spite of one’s doubt, or, on the contrary, expressing the validity of doubt? We are not sure either way.

Perhaps . . .
for the loneliness of an author

Perhaps these thoughts of ours
will never find an audience
Perhaps the mistaken road
will end in a mistake
Perhaps the lamps we light on at a time
will be blown out one at a time
Perhaps the candles of our lives will gutter out
without lighting a fire to warm us

Perhaps when all the tears have been shed
the earth will be more fertile
Perhaps when we sing praises to the sun
the sun will praise us in return
Perhaps these heavy burdens
will strengthen our philosophy
Perhaps when we weep for those in misery
we must be silent about miseries of our own

Because of our irresistible sense of a mission
We have no choice.



~ by l on March 19, 2009.

4 Responses to “Shu Ting presented by Grandpa Dinosaur”

  1. This poem seems very appropriate for the place you’re at in your life. I assume that’s why you put it here?

  2. I’ve always loved Shu Ting and since I’m doing all these reviews for books (coming up) I thought I would do Shu Ting.

    This poem has been appropriate for three years of my life, lol!

  3. That’s a great poem. Thanks for posting.

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