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Film, poetry & reflection

Zheng Xiaoqiong (1980) moved from Sichuan to Dongguan, one of the major industrial centers in South China, in 2001, hoping for a better life. She worked in different factories and started writing poems about it. With this penetrating work, Zheng became an icon: she published about ten collections of poetry, won many prizes and has been translated into many languages. In 2019 she was a guest at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival.


Iron is probably the image with which Zheng Xiaoqiong's poetry is most associated. That hard, cold, sharp, and often rusty iron represents the mechanization of society. Her poems, with strong contrasts, personifications, and broken phrases, show how industrialization has made human beings part of the machine: nameless, a number on a conveyor belt, without rights. Against this dehumanization, Zheng counters, often through natural elements, the



insecurity, fragmentation, disruption, and vulnerability of individuals, who suffer from chronic fatigue, occupational diseases, and homesickness in what is a gruesome labor machine. Both physically and mentally, the human being is crushed by the iron until they themselves become, as it were, numb iron, because whoever wants to survive in that world must not be vulnerable.

Als ijzer zo stil - Zheng Xiaoqiong

Dutch translation by Silvia Marijnissen


Poëziecentrum Gent

Release date: 1 March 2023

€ 22,00

PAPERBACK: 14 x 22cm


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