Deep Underground, a Chinese miner discovered poetry in labor

In 2011, he found a wider audience through the blogging craze that then spread across China. Online, he meets other poets, amateurs and ...


In 2011, he found a wider audience through the blogging craze that then spread across China. Online, he meets other poets, amateurs and professionals. One day in 2014, a well-known critic, Qin Xiaoyu, stumbled upon Mr. Chen’s blog and asked to meet with him.

Over the next year, Mr. Qin and a filmmaker, Wu Feiyue, followed Mr. Chen and five other migrant worker poets, for a documentary called “The Verse of Us” (later released internationally under the title “Iron moon“).

The film, released in 2015, received considerable attention – in part because of the tragedy. Another poet was there, Xu Lizhi, a factory worker at electronics giant Foxconn, committed suicide during the filming process. His death, which followed by a series of deaths other Foxconn workers, renewed the international review of the working conditions of Chinese workers.

The documentary also came amid growing awareness of China’s and the world’s dependence on this workforce, said Faye Xiao, professor of modern Chinese literature at the University of Kansas.

“Our daily life cannot last even for a day without the work of migrant workers. But at the same time, they remain politically speechless and socially marginalized, ”said Professor Xiao. “This is why more and more intellectuals and middle-class readers want to know more about their daily struggles.”

The timing of the movie was lucky for Mr. Chen. He had recently left the mines, having undergone neck surgery for a work-related injury. Thanks to his new recognition, he found writing work for a tourism company. – his first white collar job. In 2019, he published his collection of poetry, “Demolitions Mark”.

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