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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Battle of words over the future of poetry (3)

(China Daily)

12:23, January 27, 2012

Since the early 1990s, poets who had previously expressed no interest in making money found themselves caught up in China's "gold rush". They headed south in their droves to pursue a much better life of materialism.

Bai Ya, from Anhui, was one of those who stopped writing poetry in the 1990s and joined the exodus to Guangdong, the most economically active province in China at that time, to work.

He spent seven years working in public relations without writing another poem. Even top poets gave it up for a couple of years.

"As far as I know, anyone in the 1990s who carried on writing or reading poetry were teachers," said Bai.

"In such a populous country, it would only take a niche audience to re-ignite the development of poetry, so it's a pity that such reader groups have not yet formed," he was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Publishing houses have now lost interest in poetry, said Fan Xi'an, general manager of Sanlian Bookstore in Beijing, "In recent years, there have been no poetry collections that have become bestsellers. For a publishing house in China, if a book sells less than 5,000 copies, it loses money. The payoff for these 5,000 books to the poet is only 7,500 yuan. ($1,190)"

However, with the new millennium came a growth in social reflection propelled by the relatively new medium of the Internet.

"We always suffer under the illusion that young people read and write less poetry but it is not true," said Wang Xiuyun, editor of Beijing Literature. "Many young people from different backgrounds write good poetry. We just don't know them because there is less communication between the two generations."

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