The Guizhou Undercurrent

By Andrew G. Emerson

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 13, no. 2, pp.111-133

The article describes the activities of a group of Guizhou intellectuals who met during the Mao years to share their interest in Western literature and music, and to debate China’s deficiencies in technological advancement and protection of civil and human rights. They called themselves the Yeya Salon. Its foremost member was the Huang Xiang, an irrepressible writer of poetry and prose. A strong advocate of civil/human rights, Huang spent many years in jail and labor-reform before emigrating to the US in 1997. He enjoyed brief recognition as the founder (with other members of the Salon) of the Enlightenment Society, and the first person to post big character posters questioning the Mao regime during the Democracy Wall movement in Beijing in 1978-79. The Salon functioned under the aegis of Wu Lixian (pen name Ya Mo), a teacher/poet from Guiyang who was careful always to conceal his true thoughts from the authorities. The family backgrounds of these two men are briefly described, and two poems of each on similar themes are compared, to elucidate the Guizhou style. Some information is also given about other named members of the Salon, and the article concludes with comments placing the Yeya Salon in the broader context of literary efforts elsewhere during that period.