Chinese poet and essayist Shao Yanxiang was born in 1933 in the Zhejiang province of China. During the mid-1950s, Yanxiang became critical of the new China and began publishing satirical essays. For this, he was labeled a rightist and officially denounced by the Chinese government. Eventually, Yanxiang was vindicated and his writing continued to flourish. “My Optimism” appears in the 1990 collection The Red Azalea: Chinese Poetry Since the Cultural Revolution.
“My Optimism” is a deceptively simple piece about the speaker’s attachment to and relation with his own optimism. The poem raises questions on the role of optimism and idealism, what keeps us going in our work, and what does or should motivate our actions in the world.
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The Red Azalea: Chinese Poetry Since the Cultural Revolution, edited by Edward Morin. University of Hawaii Press, 1990.
Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.
How should we respond to crisis?When is conflict helpful?How do we define who we are?How do you understand your own identity? How does it relate to the communities you are a part of?What motivates us to act in the world?Where do our values come from? Why do we care about what we care about?