Dansende Digtesfees. Duo Duo (Sjina)

Een van die digters wat tydens Spier se Dansende Digtersfees op 9 en 10 Mei gaan optree, is die digter Duo Duo (1951) wat as Li Shizheng in Beijing gebore is. In 1970 het hy begin met die skryf was gedigte tydens die Kulturele Rewolusie. In die periode 1989 tot 2004 leef hy in selfopgelegde ballingskap en woon hy onderskeidelik in Kanada, die Verenigde Koninkryk, die VSA en Nederland. In 2004 keer hy egter terug na Sjina en is tans dosent aan die Universiteit Hainan: “As contemporary Chinese writer he is considered the most famous frontrunner and promotor of the celebrated Misty poets, known in modern literature to practice ‘obscure poetry’ in reaction to the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s. Duo Duo’s early poems have been described as “small and elliptical”, including many influences of western writers such as Sylvia Plath, Marina Tsvetaeva and Charles Baudelaire. He was a follower of Chinese poet Bei Dao for many years, but critics agree that his style is quite different to that of the old master.”

“Duo Duo” beteken “te veel, te veel” en Shizheng het dit as skrywersnaam geneem na die dood van sy dogtertjie wat as baba gesterf het. In 2010 is Duo Duo se werk met die gesogte Neustadt-toekenning bekroon; die eerste Sjinese skrywer wie dié eer te beurt val.

Op die webblad vir die Dansende Digtersfees kan ook ‘n besonder interessante onderhoud met die digter gevind word. By wyse van lusmaker volg daar enkele uittreksels uit die onderhoud wat tydes die Praagse Poësiefees in 2012 met die digter gevoer was. Franz Kuznik was die onderhoudvoerder.

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FK: How is freedom of expression in China now?

DD: Thereʼs not really the political control that there was 20, 30 years ago. Writers are free to write poetry — there are many literary and poetry magazines, and many, many poetry meetings and festivals in China. Publishing is no problem, because itʼs not political poetry being written, which is good. Poetry should be free from politics, not used just to report on something or make a statement against something. That oversimplifies poetry.

FK: What should poetry be?

DD: Over the past 80 years, anything could be poetry. But for me, you have to keep standards. And poetry is primarily about language. So the question is, does it have high standards of language, and something new to say, not just the same old stuff over and over.

FK: The kind of poetry that you describe can be difficult to understand.

DD: Poetry is not only about understanding. You have to feel poetry, which comes from the heart — thatʼs the difference between poetry and prose. Nowadays, everybody speaks about the meaning of poetry, both in China and in the West. I believe this is an oversimplification. Itʼs more important to appreciate a poem than to figure out its meaning. Good poetry has multiple meanings. As an analogy, itʼs not a sweet that you can just unwrap and swallow. Itʼs actually a very deep and profound way of expressing yourself, and using and creating language.

FK: How do you judge when a poem is good?

DD: Everyone has their own secret code inside; thatʼs why different people can read the same poem, and get different feelings from it. For me, a good poem touches me, attacks me, in the sense that it makes me feel strongly. I may not totally understand what the poet is saying, or be able to say immediately what it means – you have to read a poem two, three or more times to see how rich it is. If you understand it immediately, then you will put it aside and feel like you donʼt need it any more. This is suicide for the poet.

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