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Yu Xiuhua

Poet

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Yu Xiuhua is one of the best-known and most influential contemporary Chinese poets. Yu Xiuhua (b.1976) grew up in an impoverished family in rural Hubei, China. Born with cerebral palsy, she was unable to attend college or find work. While trapped in an arranged marriage, she began to write poetry in 1998 and gained wide recognition in 2014 when her poem "Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You" became an online sensation. Her poetry collection Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm (2015) sold over 400,000 copies totally, breaking the record for Chinese poetry titles in the past two decades. Yu received the Peasant Literature Award in 2016. Still Tomorrow, an award-winning documentary film about her life and poetry, was shown to the public and released to critical acclaim the same year. In 2018, she was awarded the Hubei Literary Prize.

In defiance of the stigma attached to her disability, her status as a divorced single mother, and as a peasant in rural China, Yu Xiuhua found her voice in poetry. Starting in the late 90s, writing has become a vehicle for her to explore and share her reflections on homesickness, family and ancestry, as well as the reality of disability in the context of a body's urges and desires.

In 2014, Yu's poem "Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You" blew open the doors on the world of contemporary Chinese poetry. She became an Internet sensation, finding a devoted following among young readers who enthusiastically welcomed her fresh, bold, confessional voice into the literary canon.

The rhythm of Yu's writing rises and falls with the seasons, capturing the physical toil of farming, the textures of leaves and grasses, and the light contained in a raindrop or dancing on a rock. Yet, her relationship with the nature goes further than one of admiration, trust, and peace – Yu also reflects on the suffocating impossibility and frustration around her and the limitations of the body.

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