Poetic dreams of a disabled peasant woman

 

 

 


Photo taken on January 17, 2015 shows Yu Xiuhua talking about writing poems during an interview

with Xinhua reporters.   Photo by Cheng Min 

 

 

 

Poetic dreams 

of a disabled peasant woman 

 

 

By Bai Xu and Yu Jian

 

 

 

Yu Xiuhua types on a computer keyboard with only one finger of her left hand

whenever she wants to enjoy writing her poems.   Photo by Cheng Min 

 

 

Living with cerebral palsy, Yu Xiuhua, 39, may struggle to walk, but in the world she creates through her poetry she could “Cross half of China to accost you”.

This line, taken from the a piece with the same name, is one of the most acclaimed poems by the peasant woman from Zhongxiang City, in central China’s Hubei Province, who rose to fame after her verses went viral on social media.

Yu was born in 1976. A lack of oxygen during her delivery left her with permanent brain damage. Growing up, the dream of walking unaided seemed an unattainable.

“Whenever we had guests, she would crawl along the ridge of the field,” her father Yu Wenhai recalled. “I always imagined that she was trying to prove something.”

To enable her to attend school she was carried by her parents or supported by her younger brother. It was during her schools days that she found solace in writing poems.

In a piece she wrote in middle school, which won her a school award, she compared herself to an obscure star in the sky. Reflecting on it many years later, she said: “I don’t envy those who live ‘better’ lives than me. I won’t resign to adversity.”

She left senior high school one year before graduation and later got married to a man whom she “didn’t choose out of love”. They soon separated and the only legacy of the unhappy union was a son, who is now in university.

Every day, after tending to farm animals, she sets pen to paper and escapes into her internal world.

 

In one piece, she writes about her hometown of Hengdian Village:

 

When the Mochou Lake becomes dry,

A map of Hengdian will appear at its bottom,

In the shape of a butterfly.

 

 

She also pictured love that she never had:

 

In half of the big China, everything could happen,

Drained rivers, volcano eruption;

The ignored prisoners and refugees on the run,

The elks and red-crowned cranes under the gun;

Through the storm of shots and shells,

I am coming to accost you.

 

So far, she has penned more than 2,000 poems.

“I am only truly complete, quiet and joyful when I am writing,” Yu said. Yu describes poetry as her crutch, which she turned to “when faltering in the reeling world”. Some people have begun to affectionately refer to her as the Chinese Emily Dickinson.

“She is a sensitive woman and the verses flow out of her heart naturally,” said writer Zhu Min.

Zha Wenjin, a fellow poet, said that although Yu’s work was of varying quality, “they were worth savoring”. Taking Cross Half of China to Accost You as an example, she said: “It sounds wild and bold, but you can feel the bitterness between the lines.”

Of course, there are those unmoved by her poems, such as poetry critic Han Mo. “She is only famous because of media hype,” he said. “We should forget that she is a peasant with cerebral palsy, and rate her work by pure literary merit.”

Yu said she doesn’t want her illness to attract attention either. “If I was not disabled, I could visit more places and write better poems,” she said.

Some of Yu’s poems have been published by magazines and newspapers.

 

 

 


Yu Xiuhua looks over her earlier handwritten poems in  the bedroom.   Photos by Cheng Min  

 

Yu Xiuhua poses for photos in front of her house.   Photo by Cheng Min

 

Yu Xiuhua collects hay for her rabbits in the field nearby.   Photo by Cheng Min

 

 

* Source –  http://www.icrosschina.com/profile/2015/0128/8277.shtml

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She crosses

big China

to accost you

 

 

By Wang Yiqing

 

 

She attained fame overnight, almost rudely. But then she is no ordinary poet (poetess, to be politically incorrect), for she has been serving the three muses of poetry, Calliope, Euterpe and Erato, for 16 years.

Yu Xiuhua is a farmer and all of 39 years old. She lives in Zhongxiang of Central China’s Hubei Province, and has been called by the media as the “poetess with cerebral palsy (a condition characterized by movement problems)”. Yu broke through social media WeChat recently after poetry magazine twitted her poem, Crossing big China to sleep with you.

Many media outlets have talked about her and her poems but their approach has been somewhat complicated. They have indeed praised her poems saying they carry real feelings and the power to move hearts. But, unwittingly or otherwise, their focus seems to be on her physical and social conditions, with one media outlet describing her as “a countrywoman who composes poems”.

The woman described by some media outlets as “China’s Emily Dickinson”, the famous American poet, dropped out of senior high school, has lived the life of a farmer since and does suffer from cerebral palsy.

But none of her physical traits, or the lack of them, have anything to do with her ability to compose poems. In the world of poetry, the only things that matter are words, and the feelings and meanings they carry. And her poem, Crossing big China to sleep with you, conveys that feeling, full as it is with passion: “Across China, all is happening: volcanoes are erupting, rivers are running dry…I pressed nights into a dawn to sleep with you, I gathered all I am to sleep with you”.

That she became famous overnight mainly because of media hype, rather than on the basis of her works, is a reflection of the times we live in. By using offensive epithets such as “poetess with cerebral palsy” or “countrywoman who composes poems”, media outlets have succeeded in catching the eyes of readers and viewers.

Yet the irony is, without the media offensive, Yu Xiuhua the poet and her works would have remained unknown to ordinary readers. Media reports contrasting Yu’s physical disability with her creative mind have moved, even inspired, many people.

True, John Milton overcame his blindness at 43 to be acclaimed as a great English poet and W.B. Yeats, despite his undiagnosed learning disorder, reached the wuthering heights of poetry. But they were different people living in different times. Today, a poet needs more than the medium of poetry to be heard by readers, which speaks volumes about the state of the arts, poetry included, in contemporary society.

The 1980s are regarded as the golden age of modern poetry in China, when many poets enchanted readers with their excellent creations. But the fact Yu’s works have touched many people’s hearts today is proof of her poetic power. As literature professor and poet Zang Di has said in an interview, she uses her language as her body. Perhaps the sincerity and purity of thought expressed in Yu’s poems, which today’s society seems devoid of, have drawn readers to her poems.

The last word, in this regard, rests with John Keats, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” — that is all: Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. If the combination of truth and beauty which Yu seems to represent rekindles people’s passion for poetry, media hype or not, so be it.

 

 

* Source –  http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2015-01/23/content_19383586.htm

The author is a writer with China Daily.   wangyiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

A soul on wings

 

By Raymond Zhou

 

China’s Emily Dickinson takes the online reading public by storm with her insights and sincerity, and also with her handicap and literary genius, writes Raymond Zhou.

It is an understatement to say Chinese poetry is not in its golden age. The few poets who caught public attention in the past decade are seen as jokes by most – for the sheer lack of poetic sense.

The new year, however, has given rise to a new poet some call “China’s Emily Dickinson”. She first stood out for her cerebral palsy, and then even critics joined the chorus of praise. “As someone who suffers from this handicap and cannot work as others do, she possesses a gift for the language that others do not. The love without abandon and the hurt piercing the heart have endowed her language with gravitas and power just like grains that are ripe,” effused an editorial in China’s most eminent magazine for poetry, titled Shi Kan (Poetry Periodical).

That was last September, and its publishing did not gain wide dissemination until it got onto social media. By that time, the new discovery in Chinese poetry, Yu Xiuhua, had been writing for 16 years.

Yu suffered a difficult birth when she was born in 1976 on a Hubei farm. Because she depends on her parents for daily upkeep, she did not go on with her education after graduating from high school. While in high school, her teacher had already noticed her unusual talent in writing.

At the age of 19, her parents married her off to someone she was not in love with. This experience left her with painful memories – and a son who is now in college. In 2012, she traveled to another province to search for a job. Because she was slow with work, not only did she fail to make money but she could not even recoup her traveling expenses.

Yu reads and writes poems in the same way that her fellow villagers play mahjong. She takes on some light jobs, such as shushing away chickens from the barn floor, but she invariably turns inward, as is shown in this poem: “After the birds and chickens left, the sky’s blue shortened/In this village deep inside central Hubei/The sky forces us to gaze at its blue/As our ancestors force us to gaze at our innermost narrow void/Forces us to enter September’s abundance/We are comforted by our smallness, and hurt by it/Such living sets one at ease.”

While she has accepted her physical limitations, she does endure physical pain, which is entwined with mental agony. In I Please This World With My Pain, she writes: “When I notice my body, it has gotten old and beyond recovery/Many parts ache in turns: the kidneys, the arms, the legs, the fingers/I suspect I have done evil in this world/I have spoken ill of blooming flowers. I suspect I have fallen for the night/And ignored the morning/Fortunately some pains can be omitted, deserted/And collected by loneliness and longtime desolation/These I’m ashamed to mention: I have not been/Good enough to them.”

In the eyes of her neighbors, Yu has a bad temper, which she attributes to her discomfort in her living environment. She is not understood by her family or her fellow villagers and those who get to know her online would leave once they see her in person. Gradually she starts to use a form of brutal honesty as a defense mechanism.

Maybe because she did not have an audience – until recent weeks, that is – she vents her frustrations, including sexual ones, in her lines. The poem that startled many is the one titled Cross Half of China to Sleep You, which is her fantasy of online dating, using “sleep” as an ungrammatical verb for fly-by-night sexual relations. “Actually it’s not that different I sleep you or you sleep me, but just/Two bodies clash with a ferocity that opens up a flower/Which simulates a spring that misleads us about the reopening of life.”

Like Emily Dickinson, the American recluse who scribbled a large body of poems and never published them, Yu writes for herself, baring her soul and employing the language in ingeniously idiosyncratic ways. She describes her father whose “gray hair dare not grow out of his scalp” partly because he looks younger for his age and partly because he has the responsibility to take care of her. (She got only 60 yuan, or $9.60, a month from a government subsidy for the disabled – before royalties started trickling in lately.)

With her sudden fame, press and local officials have trekked to her door, showering her with attention. Her first collection of poems will be published in February. Some netizens express hope that Yu will not lose herself in this maelstrom of publicity. More significantly, the part of her she had so far covered up, willy-nilly, will be revealed to a large readership. Lines like “How much worldly dust can cover up a woman/And her emotions that are bloody yet still shining” could be an irony once she is lured into the writing establishment.

Yu Xiuhua has, for her adult life, used poetry writing as “a crutch that someone walking unsteadily would use in a wavering crowd”. But in the eyes of her adoring readers, it provides the wings for her soul to fly.

 

 

* Source – http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2015-01/28/content_19430532.htm

Contact the writer at raymondzhou@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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诗 人 余 秀 华                                                                                                        程 敏 / 摄   

 

 

 

余秀华: 诗意地栖居生命之舟

 

                                                      作  者:    俞   俭 

 

 

不必追问余秀华为何一夜之间火了,也不必着急给她安上一顶顶各种诗人的桂冠。记者奔赴湖北荆门的钟祥市石牌镇横店村,短短两天时间采访,难以完全读懂她那39年“摇摇晃晃的人生”。透过她的2000多首诗,能感受到余秀华怀着一颗不安的心,顽强地生长,诗意地栖居在鄂中这片温热的土地上。

 

                                                        “诗歌是我摇摇晃晃人生的一根拐杖”

 

2014年《诗刊》9月号重点推出余秀华的诗,引发诗坛广泛关注,《诗刊》编辑刘年向读者郑重推荐余秀华。随后,余秀华的诗通过博客和微信发布,激起一波又一波阅读和转发热潮,点击量连连飙升,这位以诗歌为拐杖的“独行侠”一夜爆红。“我穿的羽绒服是红色的。”面对多家媒体记者的采访,余秀华不无幽默地回应她的“红”。

在横店村一座普通的农家院子里,余秀华曾在无数个日夜凝视天空,对望旷野,而眼下和记者们热情拥抱,谈笑风生,聊她的脑瘫,聊她的爱情,聊她的诗歌。她的内心没有高墙,连一道篱笆也没有。

她走路“摇摇晃晃”,努力平衡着自己的身躯,说话也似憋出来一样,尽可能让你听得更清楚。她出生时倒产,脑缺氧而致脑瘫,高二就退学在家。她不能干重活,平常就扫扫院子,农忙时帮忙烧饭洗衣,也摘棉花。她最喜欢喂兔子,家里养了几十只。这两天突然死了近10只,她难过得掉泪,兔子是她的“小情人”。

更多时间,她孤独,这促使她沉思,写诗。“其实我一直不是一个安静的人,我不甘心这样的命运。”她说,“只有在写诗歌的时候,我才是完整的,安静的,快乐的。”她给记者签名、写电话号码,足足花了2分钟。对她来说,每写一个字都很吃力,而诗歌是字数最少的一种文体。

“风,水,天空,云朵都是可以触摸的,它们从笔尖走下来。”牵牛花、狗尾巴草、柿子树、打谷场……生活里的点点滴滴都变成了诗歌。当那些扭扭曲曲的文字写满一整本的时候,她是那么快乐。她把一个日记本的诗歌给老师看时,老师称赞她“真是个可爱的小女生。”简简单单的一句话,让她非常感动。

打麻将玩牌是村民的娱乐,而她只是喜欢看书。一个人孤独寂寞,生活单调无聊,写诗就成了一种习惯,那是心灵深处发出的呼唤。弟弟余仕勇是钟祥市一所中学的老师,他说姐姐一直不服输,永远是那么倔强。

2012年她跑到温州,想找一份工作自食其力,却找不到合适的。写诗成为她生命的主要内容。她说,这么多年,除了诗歌,几乎厌倦所有的事情。余秀华痛悼诗友李小旭的一篇日记,道出了心声:“没有诗歌,我们怎么办?”

荆门市文联副主席李诗德认为,余秀华的写作,再一次证实了诗歌对生命的力量。余秀华说,诗歌不过是一个人摇摇晃晃地在摇摇晃晃的人间走动的时候,充当了一根拐杖。

 

                                                 “诗歌把我生命所有的情绪都联系起来了”

 

当余秀华的诗狂飙般地被转发,令广大读者、网民产生强烈共鸣。人们发出感叹“什么是诗歌?这才是真正的诗歌。”有学者将她誉为“中国的艾米丽·狄金森”,也有人评价说她像法国乡村诗人雅姆。余秀华告诉记者,这两位诗人的诗自己都没有读过,也许这只是源于心灵的相通,而她喜欢海子。

“诗歌是灵魂的自然流露。”这是余秀华对诗歌的理解。她的诗有深刻的生命体验,对生活有痛感。人们惊艳于她的诗情直击人心,惊世骇俗;醉心于她的诗行质朴滚烫,清新纯净,毫无矫揉造作之感。先天缺陷,婚姻,对家人深沉的爱……使她感到一种无法割舍的宿命。“我在诗歌里爱着、痛着、追逐着、喜悦着,也有许多许多失落。”她很敬佩父亲。采访中,她不断地夸老爸有文化,很勤劳,总是一刻不停地劳作。

“余秀华的诗歌是纯粹的诗歌,是生命的诗歌,而不是写出来的充满装饰的盛宴或家宴,而是语言的流星雨。”有学者如此评价。余秀华认为,“诗歌把我生命所有的情绪都联系起来了,再没有任何一件事情让我如此付出、坚持、感恩、期待,所以我感谢诗歌能来到我的生命里。”

“真诚、真实地展示内心。”刘年评价余秀华说,看她的诗,没有怨天尤人,没有自暴自弃,并不阴暗,而是充满阳光。

 

                                               “假如你是沉默的,海水也会停止喧哗”

 

“我不想这样被关注。”余秀华对记者说,尽管她理解这种被打扰。1月17日,她面对众多媒体记者现场写了一首诗,“假如你是沉默的,海水也会停止喧哗。”

她从1998年开始写诗,已经写了2000多首。她搬出十几本笔记本,上面写有1000多首诗。2009年,钟祥市文友给她送来一台电脑,学会打字后,写诗方便多了。今年元旦,钟祥市委宣传部又赠她一台新电脑。

2014年是她诗兴爆发的一年,一共写了400多首诗,这也是最值得纪念的一年。《诗刊》重点推出她的诗、她被邀请到中国人民大学朗诵自己的诗歌。她认为,“人生到此,仿佛所有的不幸、磨难,都得到了回报。我觉得超过了我应该得到的。”

此前,周边村民都知道有一个写诗的余秀华,但很少去读,有的说读不懂。母亲周金香说,有的诗还能读出含意,有点味道,如《一包麦子》里写余秀华的爸爸“有白头发也不敢生出来啊”,是说他责任重大,因为有残疾的女儿、要高考的孙子。

余秀华说:“我只是一个农妇,真的应该感谢诗歌。这是我额外的收获,我更愿意说它是人们敞开怀抱拥抱我的一次美意。”

她甚至认为写诗最好的回报,就是让她与刘年的相遇。在北京的几天里,他总是抢着背重的东西,“我问我自己,我能不能做到这样。而生命里,能够与这样的人认识,本来就是幸运了,我觉得我是一个太幸运的人。”

博尔赫斯的作品、《尘埃落定》《灵山》《挪威的森林》……她正在阅读这些文学作品。儿子现在武汉读大学,婚姻生活趋于淡定,诗作也将结集出版,她只想安静地看书、写诗。

人们问她的理想是什么,“把一些赞美当成春天,好好过日子,好好写诗歌。”余秀华这样回答。她希望写出的诗歌只是余秀华的,而不是脑瘫者余秀华或者农民余秀华的。余秀华说,“我悄无声息地落在世界上,也将悄无声息地隐匿于万物间。”

“诗是真正让我们安居的东西。”德国哲学家海德格尔如是说。网友“a夜色苍茫a”留言道,只希望你一直是你自己,不因众声喧哗而变异。

 

 

 

余秀华把死了的兔子拣出兔棚。     程 敏 / 摄

 

余秀华在电脑上查看自己博客上的网友评论。     程 敏  / 摄

 

余秀华在自己的卧室看手机。    程 敏 / 摄     

 

* Source - http://www.icrosschina.com.cn/rw/201501/t20150127_10492.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

余秀华,女,1976年生,湖北钟祥石牌镇横店村人,网络诗人。代表作《穿过大半个中国去睡你》,

作品被《诗刊》微信号发布后,余秀华的诗被热烈转发,人们惊艳于余秀华的天才和诗歌的质朴滚烫、

直击人心。2015年1月,余秀华的两本书开售,分别是湖南文艺出版社的《摇摇晃晃的人间》,以及

广西师大出版社的《月光落在左手上》 。   * View - http://blog.sina.com.cn/u/1634106437

 

 

 

《穿过大半个中国去睡你》

  Cross Half of China to Accost You

 

其实睡你和被你睡是差不多的

无非是两具肉体碰撞的力

无非是这力催开的花朵

无非是这花朵虚拟出的春天

让我们误以为生命被重新打开

大半个中国什么都在发生

火山在喷

河流在枯

一些不被关心的政治犯和流民

一路在枪口的麋鹿和丹顶鹤

我是穿过枪林弹雨去睡你

我是把无数的黑夜摁进一个黎明去睡你

我是无数个我奔跑成一个我去睡你

当然我也会被一些蝴蝶带入歧途

把一些赞美当成春天

把一个和横店类似的村庄当成故乡

而它们

都是我去睡你必不可少的理由 

 

 

 

 

BLOG EDITOR:  MIAO HONG   @http://www.readchina.net.cn https://wereadchina.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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