Taiwanese literature has long been closely related to social movements. In fact, Taiwan New Literature (modern Taiwanese literature) itself was born out of social protest. Taiwan’s longstanding political situation of authoritarian rule has prompted the island’s writers to protest by penning numerous politically charged works. However, few studies have dealt with the relationship between social movements and writers because literature that addresses social participation or political protests is often regarded as serving social or political purposes, which is considered detrimental to the aesthetic value of literature. The tendency of Taiwanese literary critics to avoid political literature is even more evident in poetry. This essay examines the neglected voices of protest in Taiwanese literary history, especially in modern poetry about actual protest events. First, it explores the relationship between literature and protests from a relatively broad perspective in an attempt to delineate the poetry of protest. Second, it discusses how Taiwanese poets used poetry to express their dissent when faced with varying social issues in different eras. The overall aim is to explore how poetic voices of protest were formed, how they were articulated, and how different voices in different eras functioned on the aesthetic level.

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