Increased access to Unofficial Poetry Journals from China

The Leiden University Library offers online access to a growing digital collection of China’s unofficial poetry journals. Key agents of cultural renewal after the Mao era, these journals are hugely influential yet difficult to access. The Leiden digital collection addresses this paradox.

Click here for a web lecture on the the topic of the journals at large, with abundant visuals. Click here for a video on accessing the online material. The material is best viewed on a computer. Functionality on smartphones and tablets is limited. Loading can be slow but this will hopefully improve in future.

In a major expansion of the collection, it now contains our full holdings for key publications such as Today (今天), Second-Growth Forest (次生林), Them (他们), At Sea (海上), Not-Not (非非), Poetry Reference (诗参考), the nationwide Modern Chinese Poetry (现代汉诗), the groundbreaking women’s writing journal Wings (翼), and the iconoclastic The Lower Body (下半身). A full list is found below. The items were selected with an eye to diversity in terms of poetics and regional provenance.

These recent additions to the digital collection were enabled by a generous gift from Dr. Freerk Heule. The support of Chinese poets and editors has been invaluable for building the physical collection (accessible here in full) and remains so for the digitization project.

We are working together with colleagues at Fudan University to further expand the digital collection. New additions will be announced in due course, depending on funding. If you can help us find potential sponsors or would like to support the project yourself, please get in touch.

Read on for some quick tips on accessing the material and the full list of our digital holdings to date. Enjoy!


Maghiel van Crevel and Marc Gilbert


(If you prefer the video tutorial, click here.)

The easiest way to access the digitized journals is from the collection page. To see the full set, click ‘Show all items’ and then sort by ‘title’. Click the image of the journal of your choice and check the ‘Year’ dropdown menu to find the available issues per year (see this example). Alternatively, to go to a given journal directly from the collection page, input its full title in the search field (use simplified characters or disaggregated pinyin).

Once you are ‘inside’ the individual issue of your choice, there are various options for viewing (single page, two pages, thumbnail grid), for enlarging, and for downloading at the issue or page level.

For optimal viewing and enlarging, especially for material that is difficult to read or other questions to do with the materiality of the journal in question, click on ‘IIIF Advanced Viewer’ (tutorial here) and make sure to check out the various options for image manipulation (top left corner). The material may need a few seconds to come into full focus. The Viewer is available from inside individual issues, but also at the level of a journal’s title record. From there, it will give you an overview of all available issues of the journal in question (see this example; open the ‘Fei Fei 非非’ folder and click on the year and the issue of your choice).


For some titles, our holdings are complete. For the others, efforts to make them so continue, with the help of Chinese poets and editors.

In addition to journals, the collection also contains book-like publications, including both multiple-author anthologies (e.g. 《次生林》 in the list below) and individual collections (e.g. Haizi’s 海子《小站》).

《今天》(first published 1978)
《次生林》(published 1982)
《高原诗辑》(first published 1982)
《小站》(海子 著)(published 1983; individual collection)
《海上》(first published 1985)
《他们》(first published 1985)
《现代诗内部交流资料》(published 1985)
《中国当代实验诗歌》(published 1985)
《非非》(first published 1986)
《北回归线》(first published 1988)
《倾向》(first published 1988)
《幸存者》(first published 1988)
《九十年代》(first published 1989)
《诗参考》(first published 1990)
《大骚动》(first published 1991)
《现代汉诗》(first published 1991)
《原样》(first published 1991)
《新死亡诗体》(first published 1992)
《葵》(first published 1997)
《翼》(first published 1998)
《诗文本》(first published 1999)
《诗歌与人》(first published 2000)
《下半身》(first published 2000)

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