Battlers poetry (dagong shige 打工詩歌), a genre whose name has mostly been rendered in English as “migrant worker poetry” to date, presents an important development in Chinese literature since the 2000s. Written by members of a new precariat that plays a key role in China's economic growth, this poetry speaks to the plight of its constituency. Xu Lizhi 許立志 (1990–2014) is one of its best-known authors, whose rise to fame was triggered if not caused by his suicide. While it is impossible to conduct a real discussion of Xu's work without referring to his suicide and the story of the migrant workers, his status as a figurehead of battlers poetry at large raises questions because what he wrote is arguably not very representative of the genre at all. These observations lead to a discussion of the way battlers poetry has been framed in Chinese critical discourse, where it is often said to have high social significance but low aesthetic value. This convenient dyad is unsatisfying in that it simplifies the text's relation to reality—which is more highly charged for battlers poetry than for many other literary genres.

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