China's youngest poet lights up Internet

China's youngest poet lights up Internet
Cover of Iron Head's poem anthology "Willow is a Naughty Boy" (Liu Shu Shi Ge Chou Xiao Zi)

A nine-year-old boy has caused an online stir by writing poems in which he calls his mother a"bitchy cat"and claims that he likes her breasts.

Liang Shengjie, 9, known by his pen name "Iron Head", has become an overnight sensation after an anthology of his poems was recently published by Tsinghua University Press. Liang, a student in fourth grade in Beijing, began writing poems at the age of six after being encouraged by his mother.

The published book, called "Willow is a Naughty Boy" (Liu Shu Shi Ge Chou Xiao Zi), is a collection of 175 pieces of his work, out of more than 270 pieces he's created so far.

Many of his works are photographed and constantly posed on Weibo (a Twitter-like application)account @ Beautiful Iron Head (Piao Liang De Tie Tou), which has more than 7,600 followers. However, the poems' sophisticated themes and the language have caused mixed reaction.

For example, one of the poems that has raised most eyebrows is "If Only Mom is a Little Bitchy Cat", which goes as "I think mom is like a bitchy little cat/ Because she meets all the standards of a bitchy cat/Cats scratches/my mom does too/Cats is bitchy and always lean on me/Cats are like mom...mom is bitchy/ I love you."

The word "bitchy" ("Jian" in Chinese), although used here in praise is nevertheless controversial. Some think poem is cute and reflects the pure and innocent love of a little son to his mother, while some have called the language vulgar and nasty.

"I believe that many moms will fall in love with this little boy when they read this poem," said one Weibo user called Zao Zao Wan Wan (@早早晚晚);

"How could such a thing come from a nine-year-old boy? Does he watch pornography?" wrote Sina Weibo user @Zi You Tiao Yue De Tian Kong (@自由跳跃的天空), which received more than 1,000 likes.

Other poems with such themes as "desire" and "affection" have caused an outcry. Verses such as "There is no romantic love between me and my mom/ What I like is only her breasts" and "There is love between me and my gun/ I am familiar with it/ I touched every inch of its body", have been termed "gross" by the public.

"I think it is unfair to judge my boy just from one or two poems, as they do not represent his whole work," said Li Guijie, mother of the young poet. "I know in one poem, he uses 'bitchy cat'. I thought it was impropriate and disrespectful at the first glance, but when I read the whole piece, I discovered that it reflected childhood simplicity. Children's world is pure and he only wants to describe my cat-like character. "

Zhang Lihong, editor of Tsinghua University Press, also praised Iron Head's poems.

"His work is valuable in a way that it has nothing to do with adulthood. It has nothing to do with guidance or teaching, and it has no historical burden. It is just a kid's naughty heart riding on his colorful imagination. "

Many of Iron Head's poems, including the controversial ones, have been published in a string of celebrated periodicals, including Poetry (Shi Kan), Poetry Monthly (Shi Ge Yue Kan), Selected Poems (Shi Xuan Kan), etc.

An online topic called "China's youngest poet" on Weibo has now attracted more than 6.5 million readings and nearly 10,000 comments. The public discussion is still going on.