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Gu Cheng

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Gu Cheng (顾城) (1956-1993) was a Chinese modernist poet and an expatriate in New Zealand. He was a prominent figure in the "Misty Poets" literary movement in China. He was also remembered for his premature death in a murder-suicide incident, which he reportedly slaughtered his wife, Xie Ye and committed suicide.


Gu Cheng was born in 1956 in Beijing, China. His father, Gu Gong, was a poet and a soldier. Gu Cheng had started writing in a young age. However, during the political and social upheaval of the Communist Cultural Revolution of 1960s-1970s in China, he was sent to do hard labor such as herding pigs and working in factories.

In 1977 he resumed his literary career and joined the nascent "Misty Poets" movement. He and other poets in the movement founded the samizdat literary magazine, Jintian ("Today"). In 1988 he moved to New Zealand and taught Chinese literature at University of Auckland. The Misty Poets movement ended after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, and many of their works are banned by the Chinese government since then.

Murder-suicide incident

In 1993, in New Zealand, according to police report, Gu Cheng murdered his wife Xie Ye with an axe and subsequently hanged himself. This incident shocked the Chinese-language literary community around the world.


Gu Cheng's poetry is known for his experimental, introspective, and "fairytale" style. In his early career his poems contain extensive lyricism and metaphors.

One of Gu Cheng most famous poems, One Generation, consists only one line and was written when he was 12 years old.

List of works