Neustadt International Prize

2010 - Duo Duo

Duo Duo or Duoduo is the pen name of contemporary Chinese poet, Li Shizheng

Born: 1951, Beijing, China

Author's Quote : “Perhaps pondering words is also a form of seeking justice. If a monologue can invite a chorus, then perhaps it can speak for others as well.”

Field: Poet

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Duo Duo

About Duo Duo

Duo Duo was born in Beijing, China. As a youth in the Cultural Revolution, he was sent down to the countryside in Baiyangdian, where he began reading and writing poetry. Several of his schoolmates would also become famous as members of the underground poetry movement described as "Misty" by the authorities: Bei Dao, Gu Cheng and Mang Ke.

Duo Duo's early poems are short and elliptical, in which some see barbed political references. In his early poems, there are numerous intertextual links to Western poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Marina Tsvetaeva and Sylvia Plath. His style underwent a shift in the mid-1980s to longer, more philosophical poetry. In contrast to the clipped, image-based style of Bei Dao, Duo Duo tended to use longer, more flowing lines, and paid more attention to sound and rhetoric. Some of his poems border on the essayistic, such as the 1984 Lessons also translated as Instruction, which spoke for China's "lost generation" as much as Bei Dao's Answer.

In 1989, Duo Duo having been witness to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, as fortune had it was booked on a plane on 4 June to London where he was due to give a poetry reading at the British Museum. He went on to live for many years in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. His poetic language went through another shift, taking up the themes of exile and rootlessness. In the absence of a Chinese-speaking community, Duo Duo began to use the Chinese language more self-consciously. Sometimes his poems border on the impenetrable yet are highly effective, such as the poem Watching the Sea.

In 2004, Duo Duo returned to China and began to teach at Hainan University.



The Boy Who Catches Wasps - Duo Duo

By Madomegadi

Eliot Weinberger, in the jacket blurb to this book, says that Duo Duo's poetry constitutes "a mountain on the topographical map of contemporary world poetry". I couldn't agree more. The translations are not only accurate and polished but read like poetry in themselves. Lee's notes and introduction provide a really helpful insight into the craft and the difficulties of translating modern Chinese poems.