Yu Xiuhua, born in Hengdian, Hubei Province, China, is a poet from an impoverished rural background who was born with cerebral palsy. Yu began writing poetry in 1998. In 2014, her poem “Crossing Half of China to Fuck You” became an online sensation, launching her career as a celebrity poet and writer. Her poetry collection Moonlight Falls on My Left Hand (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2015), sold over 10,000 copies, a record for Chinese poetry titles of the past two decades. Yu received the Peasant Literature Award in 2016 and the Hubei Literary Prize in 2018. Still Tomorrow, an award-winning documentary film about her life and poetry, was released to critical acclaim the same year.
In 2022, an English translation of Moonlight Falls on My Left Hand (Astra House/Penguin, 2021) was published, translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. A review from The Washington Post describes the collection: “Moments of reverie give way to self-loathing; painful accidents suddenly turn transcendent. Her style mixes straightforward language and confessional frankness with sudden disjunctures and imagines mundane scenes into which strange images intercede. Autobiographical intimacy is something Yu invites and resists. “One can never tell his or her truth. Truth once spoken tends to be false,” she observes, and in a reflection on disability, writes that the body “provides us with multiple versions and aspects of a soul.” The multiplicity, therefore, becomes essential, as the poems are rarely frozen in a single feeling. Yu renders her life in a way that is irreducible.”