Xin XuFollow

Date of Award

Fall 11-24-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA English




Jeffrey H. Gray, Ph.D

Committee Member

Mary M. Balkun, Ph.D


confessional poetry, confessional poets, Zhai Yongming, contemporary Chinese poetry


In the 1980s, a Chinese poet, Zhai Yongming (翟永明), published a linked suite of nineteen poems. Zhai entitled this sequence “Women” (Nǚren女人) and claimed that her poems were largely influenced by American confessional poets such as Sylvia Plath. Chinese critics suggest that Zhai inaugurates the trend of confessional poetry in China. This paper will first contextualize the Chinese translation of American confessional poetry in the Mao and post-Mao age, and then problematize the concept of “confession” in Chinese poetry criticism by making American confessional poetry a counter point. Under the term of confessional poetry it is “the illusion of a True Confession;” a crucial point made by both Donald Sheehan and Majorie G. Perloff (470). The aesthetics of presenting the actual facts and creating the illusion of confession is the basic controversy but also the glamour of confessional poetry. For confessional poets, poetry not only presents confession but also represents it. In a close reading of her two most important poems “Women” and “Jing’an Village (Jing’an zhuang静安庄),” this research will suggest that Zhai Yongming transforms “the night” inspired by Sylvia Plath to make her own landscape of confession, which is far beyond the term “confessional poetry.”