- Purchase/rental options available:
Manoa 15.2 (2003) 208
[Access article in PDF]
Wings of Summer: Selected Poems 1984-1997 by Zheng Danyi. Translated by Luo Hui. Hong Kong: Sixth Finger Press, 2003. 366 pages, paper $16.
Zheng Danyi is one of China's leading poets of the New Generation. Though circulation of his poetry has been limited, his work has been influential in China and, through this excellent translation, can now find a wider appreciation in the West.
Zheng self-published and circulated five other collections of poems in Chinese. Wider distribution was limited by government authorities, who were wary of all poetry. It is a measure of the depth of this wariness of literary "pollution" that Zheng's verses—known only to a few—resulted in government harassment and self-imposed exile in Hong Kong.
Wings of Summer: Selected Poems 1984-1997 provides a valuable opportunity to review Zheng's impressive body of work—considerable for a poet still in his early forties—from his socially conscious early works, influenced by Li Bai and Tu Fu, to his more recent personal and surreal poems.
The intertwining of many poetic influences—ancient and modern, Chinese and Western—makes for poetry of great originality and ravishing beauty. For Zheng, a poet in exile, poetry is both a personal language and a homeland. In his words, "Homeland is not a birthright. It has to be found in language and built with language. It is not a geographical location; it is a product."
Dino Mahoney is an adjunct associate professor in the department of English and communications at the City University of Hong Kong. Based in London, he is also a playwright, poet, arts critic, and radio broadcaster.