Qiu Maojing, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Chen Yizhi, author of Sonar: The Evolution of Taiwanese Modernist Poetry (2006), served as supplement editor at the United Daily News. After retiring, he taught creative writing and journalism classes at National Taiwan Normal University, his alma mater. In an introduction, Chen sets out the book’s three main topics: Modernism, modernist poetry, and poetics. In addition to clarifying the concept of modernism, he also emphasizes the aesthetic experience of reading modernist poetry, and delves into the details of literary aesthetics. Thus, he cites texts dealing with Taiwanese modernist poems and schools from the years 1930 to 2000, analyzing modernism’s growth and evolution in Taiwan.
The work first focuses on poetry of the Japanese colonial period, such as Shuiyinping’s (Yang Chichang) surrealist works, then moves on to discuss the influence of Ji Xian’s postwar “new modernism” as well as Ji’s “new poetry” debates with Tan Zihao. The author also notes that the Blue Star Poetry society’s Yu Guangzhong adopted a broader view of modernism, retaining traditional and classical elements, firmly setting out his poetic vision and igniting a literary controversy that raged for a decade. Chen also touches on Lin Hengtai’s Cubist poetics, embodied in the classic “Landscape No. 2.”
In contrast to the Blue Star Poetry Society’s individualism, the 1960s’ Epoch Poetry Society’s group dynamic emphasized “Westernization.” Representative members of the society included Ya Xian, Luo Fu, and Zhang Mo. The author also notes that Ye Weilian and Li Yinghao produced fine translations of poetic works. The Li Poetry Society primarily espoused nativist realism, but dabbled in modernism as well – Chen cites Li Kuixian’s poetry as an example of how modernist ideas took root and flowered in Taiwanese soil.
The book’s middle and last sections discuss modernist elements implicit in the work of 1970s and 80s Taiwanese historical realist poets and those who returned to more traditional poetics. Furthermore, the author investigates modernism’s relation to postmodernism, showing how the latter trend manifested in the work of Taiwanese poets of the time. Finally, he looks at Xia Yu, whose poetry exhibits strong experimental and word-game elements.
Chen also states that the influence of modern poetics did not end with the 1953-1969 modern poetry movement: “True modernism will never die.” A movement is temporary, while poetics encompass eternal truth and beauty – Chen Yizhi’s stated reason for writing the book. As a boon to readers and researchers, an appendix includes a modernist poetry chronology as well as descriptions of various modernist schools.
|Related Literary Themes：||Modernist Literature|