23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Ouyang Jianghe

Ouyang Jianghe, a significant figure in modern Chinese poetry, was born in 1956 in Luzhou in the province of Sichuan. According to the »Down to the Countryside Movement«, he was sent to work as a tea grower after leaving school. From 1979 he did four years military service. Ouyang Jianghe wrote his first poems and essays on literature, music and aesthetics in 1977 at the age of 21. Whilst a student he co-founded the Association of Young Poets of Sichuan, a non-official organisation which defined itself as having a distinct character, far removed from the canon of Chinese state literature and censorship.

Ouyang belongs to the »third generation« of twentieth century Chinese literature or the so-called »Five masters from Sichuan«. They consciously distanced themselves from the »Misty Poets«, which include writers such as Bei Dao, Shu Ting, Gu Cheng or Yang Lian. The members of the third generation, which appeared at the end of the eighties, feel more commitment to literary rather than political concerns. They regard closeness to political systems as suspect. Ouyang is much more of an advocate of »intellectual poetry« based on reflection and the expression of mature recognition rather than inspiration, sudden impulse or spontaneous illumination. Different to the work of the »Misty Poets«, Ouyang’s poems reject any pathos and instead are concerned with everyday themes, the insignificant and the private. The author is sceptical of ideals and grand-scale metaphysical narratives. General terms such as history, culture, peoples or nation are de-constructed. Instead, the search for tangible things is at the forefront. In the quiet syntactical flow of the poems, precise images are found which fuse to form a unity that is close to allegory. »The factory is close to the sea. // Whoever knows water, knows glass. // Rigid, cold, fragile // this price is paid by what is transparent«.

In China, Ouyang published the collection of poems entitled »That which disappears, that which stays« and »Glass that cuts through words«. In Germany his poems were included in the anthologies »Die Glasfabrik« (1993; t: The glass factory), »Dem Dichter des Lebens« (1997; t: To the poet of life) and »Chinesische Akrobatik – Harte Stühle« (1995; t: Chinese acrobatic: Hard chairs). He visited the United States between 1993 and 1997 and in 1997 was a guest of the artists’ academy Schloss Solitude near Stuttgart. Ouyang has published more than 150 poems and thirty essays in Chinese literary magazines. His poems have been translated into most European languages and published in various publications, including the »Times Literary Supplement«. The poet lives in Beijing.

© international literature festival berlin