(article taken from Colors Issue #70 www.colorsmagazine.com)
"I am a poet, I’ve written many poems."
I am a poet, I’ve written many poems. I called the publishing house in my province asking them to think about publishing my works, but they told me that poems are really hard to sell today. So I decided to come to Beijing and see if there was more opportunity here.
This is my first time in Beijing. I went to Tian An Men Square yesterday and spent 30 yuan [US$4] taking an instant photo there. My mum will be proud of me. I’ve yearned for Beijing since childhood, as many children have. There are many songs of praise for Beijing, but I was a bit disappointed when I actually arrived. The hostel I’m staying in during this trip is called Public Bathing. The building used to be a warehouse. It only costs 15 yuan [US$2] a night, and it’s very close to the city center, but the space is really small. It’s only 3 square meters. There’s only enough room for a single bed. You can’t do anything but sleep.
A man on the train told me about the hostel. He offered to find a security guard job for me, but I refused. I said, “I want to be a poet. I will go to college, and this is my only way.”
The first book my mum bought me was 300 poems of the Tang Dynasty. I wrote my first poem when I was 11. My favorite poet is Rabindranath Tagore. My mother told me I would go hungry if I decided to be a poet.
I didn’t understand at first, but things are getting clearer. This is an era that doesn’t need poets. Most people dream of becoming pop stars or rich bosses. Many of my friends entered a professional school after junior middle school; some went to the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai to do interior decoration, to earn big money. But I still want to be a poet and to publish my poems.
I get together with my childhood friends every New Year, but I’ve got no interest in what they talk about. I don’t know if I’ve changed or they have. Sometimes I feel lonely, but I understand that friends are friends and dreams are dreams. I never read my poems to them. I should get used to being alone, because only lonely people try to think about the meaning of life.