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Duo Duo was the Winner of the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature


Poetry in which the societal is entwined with the individual, the Chinese enmeshed in the global.


Duo Duo began to write poetry in the early 1970s when the Cultural Revolution was still in full swing. He was obliged to write clandestinely, never imagining he would one day have readers. He continued to write throughout the 1980s, publishing in samizdat publications, and then more openly as the authorities relaxed their grip. Duo Duo left China for a reading tour of England June 4th 1989, the morning after the Tiananmen massacre that he had witnessed.


Duo Duo's poetic vision embraces a historical and political vision that is much more diverse, more global than that circumscribed by the confines of the last third of China's twentieth century. The context of China, Duo Duo's lived experience, is necessarily present in the poet's imaginary, but it is diffused in a world-view that embraces all of modern humanity's dilemmas, our increasing separation from nature, and our alienation from one another. The exile, like the hybrid and other “in between” subjects, writes of China with the benefit of critical distance, but also writes with an exceptional perspective of wherever he finds himself.


Before leaving China, Duo Duo worked as a journalist. His writing has been widely translated and published throughout the world, including two small selections of his work—in English—published in the UK and Canada. Generally associated with the other menglong (ambiguist) poets, such as Bei Dao and Yang Lian. Duo Duo currently lives and teaches in the Netherlands.


Gregory B. Lee is Founding Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He has also taught at the Universities of Cambridge, London, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Lyon. His translations of Duo Duo and other Chinese poets have appeared in numerous publications, including Fissures: Chinese Writing Today (Zephyr Press), and Abandoned Wine (Wellsweep Press). He is the author of China's Lost Decade: Cultural Politics and Poetics 1978-1990 in Place of History, published by Zephyr Press, and several other scholarly books.

The Boy Who Catches Wasps, by Duo Duo

  • The Boy Who Catches Wasps
    Duo Duo
    from Chinese by Gregory B. Lee
    ISBN 0-939010-70-4 (paper) 
    6 x 8½
    224 pages [bilingual Chinese/English]

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