A Poet of Everchanging Poetic Styles and Exceptional Courage

Chen Li Lends His Voice to “The Island Chanted in Poetry”

May 5, 2020

“The Island Chanted in Poetry” is releasing a collection of short films of Chen Li reading his works. One of the foremost poets of his generation in Taiwan, Chen Li has a varied poetic style and is always seeking to renew it. His poems reveal a keen eye and passion for human life, expressed through a quest for the voices of land and history, a celebration of the quotidian, a resistance to institutions and formal rigidity, and the construction and protection of the world of art and imagination.


This latest collection includes readings of four of Chen Li’s most representative works: “Green Onions”, “Microcosmos”, “The Wall”, and “A Cup of Tea”. The wit, creativity and richness of his poems are brilliantly represented through his reading and accompanying images. “Green Onions” is saturated with a deep love for the land, his hometown and his mother. Committing himself fully to the reading, Chen Li expressed sincere emotions and could not hold back his tears. “Microcosmos” is a collection of short, haiku-like poems inspired by anything and everything in life. Two collections of one hundred short poems each were published in 1993 and 2006 respectively, from which Chen Li selected eleven to read. During his reading of “Come, give me a/photograph of existence:/imprisoned”, he took an impromptu selfie of himself, fittingly, as “a photograph of existence”. “A Cup of Tea” looks at the world through a cup of tea with a zen-like sensibility and writes of the disappointment of waiting for someone in vain; the tea is also a symbol of the heart, alluding to the fact that in the hurried pace of modern society, a steady and sincere heart could change quality and “change its speed”. “The Wall”, subdued yet poignant, concludes with this final stanza: “The wall has ears,/leading a giant existence sustained by our frailty.” These lines were selected for inclusion in a public art installation titled “Poetry Road” in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2005, a testament to the international acclaim that Chen Li has achieved.


“The Island Chanted in Poetry” series invites writers to read their own works and is produced by Fisfisa Media, which is committed to preserving literature through images. Over the past decade, Fisfisa has made thirteen documentaries featuring writers under the series titled “The Inspired Island”. For the much shorter films of “The Island Chanted in Poetry”, Fisfisa has recorded readings of 36 works by writers including Chou Meng-tieh, Pai Hsien-yung, Guan Guan, Ling Yu, and Chen Li. Also planned for production this year are readings by Chen Li. Fisfisa continues to invite veteran writers to join the project, in the hope of preserving a “star chart” of Taiwan’s literary figures for a long time to come.

“The Island Chanted in Poetry” can be viewed on the following online channels: Yahoo TVLine TVLiTVSocial media platforms: Facebook

Beginning on May 22, stay tuned for the following releases on the Fisfisa YouTube channel each Friday at noon:https://goo.gl/5AaZGs


Proud to be a Taiwanese Green Onion!—“Green Onions”

Give Me the Time for A Cuppa—"A Cup of Tea”

I Say Love and You Say Oy, Haikus to Life—“Microcosmos”

Leading a Giant Existence Sustained by Our Frailty—“The Wall”