27 Nov China Seminar: Maghiel van Crevel, Marc Gilbert: Launch of the Unofficial Poetry Journals from China online collection


Launch of the Unofficial Poetry Journals from China online collection

All are welcome. The event will be followed by drinks. Please register here.

The Leiden University library holds a unique collection of “unofficial” poetry journals from China. Just about everybody who is anybody in Chinese poetry today made their debut in such journals (Bei Dao, China’s best-known poet, is a case in point) and their emergence in the late 1970s marked the end of the state’s monopoly on cultural production. Comparable to Soviet-Russian samizdat publications and to the “little magazines” associated with modernism in the West, they have been hugely influential.

The Leiden collection has been built by Maghiel van Crevel during research trips since the early 1990s and continues to grow today. Different from similar collections elsewhere, it is unique in that the goods have been extensively documented online and are accessible to visitors from all over the world (click here or here if you have the time and here if you don’t). Now, seed funding from the library has made it possible to digitize an outpost of twelve famous items, as a first step toward making the journals full-text available online for use by students, scholars, translators, and other readers everywhere. None of this could have happened without the unstinting support of Chinese poets and poetry activists, and the slogan “From China with Love” is an (admittedly corny) attempt to convey something of the passion and energy that drive the Chinese poetry scene.

At the launch of the online collection, Maghiel will speak on key moments in the history of the journals and their significance over time, including a recent surge in interest on the part of libraries in China. Marc Gilbert, subject librarian for Chinese and curator of the Chinese Special Collections, will curate a pop-up exhibition of some of the most important items held in Leiden: Today (今天), the ur-journal triggered by the advent of the Reform Era in China in 1978, Wings (翼), a key channel for women’s poetry and feminist writing established in 1997, Workers Poetry (工人诗歌), published in 2009 as part of the new subaltern stream in Chinese poetry, and two dozen others.


Date: Wednesday 27 November 2019

Time: 16:15 – 17:15  hrs

Explanation followed by drinks

Series China Seminar


University Library
Witte Singel 26-27
2311 BG Leiden

Room: Vossius and Heinsius rooms