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Poetry aftershocks
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Candlelight vigil for earthquake victims

By Keen Zhang
China.org.cn columnist


 "PLA, ever onwards!
"Heedless in the midst of nature's fury
"They persevere for the People..."

Sun Jianjun, a children's poet, showed us a rough paper at the central Hong Yang square in Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province on which he had written a poem praising the courage of the PLA soldiers who have struggled to save as many lives as they could following the deadly 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12, which as of Thursday had killed 69,180.

He reads aloud to us.

Sun, a Sichuan native, is one of those rare adults in China who still remain faithful to children's poetry. He has published several collections of his work. At the moment he is traveling around the quake-hit areas, trying to comfort people with his short and simple poems.

Sun is one of the poets who are trying to make a contribution to quake relief. A cultural phenomenon was born after the earthquake: thousands of professional poets, writers, editors and ordinary people are trying to find a way to express their emotional turmoil – sadness, gratitude, confidence and strength – through contemporary poetry. Many focus on sadly deceased parents, children and teachers.

On May 22, the first day after the three-day national mourning, renowned poet Hai Xiao first published a poetry collection Love Knows No Borders: We Are Here with Wenchuan through New World Press. Hai is also the founder of an influential poetry website – Xshdai.com. His initial plan was to open a channel on his web for quake-relief poems, then he had the idea of publishing a collection, which was eventually speed-edited by himself and the publishing house over 6 days.

"The best poems in the book are written by those who are not professional poets," Hai Xiao told China.org.cn, "because the best poems come from the true heart and the genuine emotion of common people. I cried a thousand times when reading the poems, but I also sensed a strong power, the power of the resolve of brave and stalwart Chinese people in the face of the colossal disaster."

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