DJS Books was formed in 2008 by Ming Di and a group of Chinese poets who tried to independently publish cutting-edge poetry books in China. With 10 ISBNs from the USA, it published some rare poetry and visual art collections that couldn’t fit in the usual categories in China, such as Cheng Xiaobei’s Shangyuan Diary on architecture and poetry, and Ming Di’s Berlin Story — Photo-Poems.
After obtaining a small amount of private funding, in 2012 DJS launched First Poetry Book Prize in China and, due to an excess of submissions, it ended up awarding three first prize books, one second prize book, and one grand prize for a poetry book by a seasoned poet who had never published a single official book in thirty years. To honor these books of exceptionally fine quality, the editor of DJS approached Red Hen Press, in the USA, to collaborate. DJS became an imprint of Red Hen Press in 2013 and published these five books in August of 2013.
The publication of poetry has been, and still is, extremely difficult in China. One ISBN can cost somewhere between 20000 to 30000 RMB by sub-contracting with a big publisher. Only a handful of highly-selected poets have had a chance to be published by a major press. Small publishers normally don’t like to take up poetry because “it doesn’t sell.”
In the last few years, a number of independent publishers have emerged in China who devote themselves to publishing poetry. However, poetry is not typically distributed due to a lack of ISBNs, as ISBNs are only assigned to state publishers, for censorship reasons. Still, there are many poets who also cannot afford independent publishing, because most of them require a down payment from the authors. DJS provides free services to the poets in China and is therefore quite unique, especially with its prizes in poetry and poetry translations since 2010. DJS tries its best to find the highest quality work in the country and support its publication.
In 2013, DJS started to plan how to translate Chinese poetry into English and publish Chinese-English bilingual poetry books with a target publication date of 2014 to 2015. By doing so, DJS Books tries to promote mutual understanding between China and the English-speaking world though poetry, with technical and English editorial support from, and in collaboration with, Red Hen Press in the USA.
First Poetry Book Award winning books
By Xu Yue 徐钺
By Wang Dongdong王东东
By Yuan Yongping袁永平
Second Poetry Book Award winning book
DJS Poetry Book Award
by Gu Gang 古冈