Guo Jinniu
(China, 1966)   
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Guo Jinniu

Guo Jinniu, born in Hebei and now living in Shenzhen, was a migrant worker in South China, where he worked for a time at the Foxconn factory: one of his jobs there was the installation of safety nets to stop employees committing suicide by jumping from the factory buildings. Guo has published poems and stories in China, and his poems have been translated into English, German, Dutch and Czech. His collection Going Home On Paper won the first International Chinese Poetry Prize and a Jindi Poetry Competition Prize.

His poetry grows out of his 20 years as a migrant worker; it documents the lives of an underclass who, without papers or official status, drift from place to place in search of employment as porters, building workers, unskilled factory hands or whatever temporary work they can find. He gives a voice to the dispossessed, the forgotten and the marginalized whose unacknowledged labour underpins China’s ‘economic miracle’.

Poet and editor Yang Lian writes of Guo’s work:

It does not resort to social brouhaha, but opens for us, in fresh, vivid and extremely individual lines, a world of mutes: villages abandoned by innumerable young people who turned their backs on their homes, bewildering cities, barren as deserts, the degrading work environment of the labourers in the lowest strata of society, and also their state of mind, so much more desolate and miserable than the world around them . . . The question is, what is home? The answer is: deep feelings and truth expressed, these are our home. They are rooted in our hearts by every line of poetry. Seen this way, which of us is not on the way back home?

© Brian Holton


纸上还乡——郭金牛诗集 (Going Home On Paper), E. China Normal University Press, Shanghai, 2014

In English
A Massively Single Number, ed. Yang Lian, trans. Brian Holton, Shearsman Books, Bristol, 2015


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