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Yang Lian



Born: 22.2.1955
Birthplace: Bern
Country of birth: Switzerland

Language: Chinese
Working language: Chinese


 Yang Lian was born in Switzerland in 1955, and grew up in Beijing. He began writing when he was sent to the countryside in the 1970s. On his return to Beijing he became one of the founders of the 'Misty' school of contemporary Chinese poetry. Among other things, Yang Lian is known for his poem sequences and long poems, which display a profound understanding of, and creative links with, Classical Chinese poetry.His poems became well-known and influential inside and outside of China in the 1980s, especially when his sequence ‘Norilang’ was criticised by the Chinese government during the ‘Anti-Spiritual Pollution’ movement.Yang Lian was invited to visit Australia and New Zealand in 1988 and so became a poet in exile after the Tian'anmen massacre. Since that time, he has continued to write and speak out as a highly individual voice in world literature, politics and culture.His work has also been translated into more than thirty languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Central and Eastern European languages.His work has been reviewed as "like MacDiarmid meets Rilke with Samurai sword drawn!", "one of the most representative voices of Chinese literature" and "one of the great world poets of our era'".Yang Lian was elected twice as a board member of PEN International, in 2008 and 2011.Since 2005, he has been the artistic director of “Unique Mother Tongue”, a privately organised international seminar series based on London.In 2012, he became the artistic director of, a privately owned website, and started “ International Chinese Poetry Prize”, an international poetry prize for poems written in Chinese. It is based on a private website in China and partners with the British Centre for Literary Translation based in UK.In 2013, Yang Lian was to be a guest-professor by Nanjing University of the Arts, one of the oldest and best known art universities in China, and the Arts College of Hebei University. Then, in 2014, he was invited to be writer in residency and a lecture professor by the  University of Shantou, China.Yang Lian lives now between London and Berlin. Yang Lian’s website: Selection of publications in Chinese: Li Hun (Ritualisation of the Soul), 1985. Xi’an, China: Dangdai Zhongguo Qingnian Shiren Congshu. Poetry collection.Huang Hun (Desolate Soul), 1986. Shanghai, China: Shanghai Wenyi Press. Poetry collection.Huang (Yellow), 1989. Beijing, China: Renmin Wenxue Press. Poetry collection. (banned).Ren de Zijue (Man’s Self-Awakening), 1989. Sichuan, China: Sichuan Renmin Press. Collection of essays (banned).Taiyang you Ren (The Sun and the Man), 1991. Hunan, China: Hunan Wenyi Press. Book-length poem with a long essay (by Yu Feng).(Yi), 1994. Taipei, Taiwan: Modern Poetry Books. A book-length poem.Gui Hua (Ghost Speak), 1994. Taipei, Taiwan: “Lian-Jing” Publisher Company. Selection of prose.Yang Lian Zuo Pin 1982 -- 1997 (Yang Lian’s Works: 1982 -- 1997), 1998. Shanghai, China: Shanghai Wenyi Press. Selected poems, prose and essays (two volumes).Yue Shi De Qi Ge Ban Ye (Seven Half Nights of Lunar Eclipse), 2001. Taipei, Taiwan: Lianhe Wenxue Congshu (Unita Books). Collection of prose.Yan Shi (Dark Blue Poems), 2009. Taipei, Taiwan: Qingxiang Press. Collection of poems with a long interview.Yi Zuo Xiang Xia Xiu Jian De Ta (A Tower Built Downward), 2009. Beijing, China: Fenghuang Press. Selection of Essays.Yan Dui Wo Shuo (A Wild Goose Speaks to Me), 2010. Hong Kong & Singapore: Mingbao Press & Qingnian Press, Treasury of Contemporary World Chinese Literature. A selection of poems, prose and essays.Yan Dui Wo Shuo (A Wild Goose Speaks to Me), 2010. Hong Kong & Singapore: Mingbao Press & Qingnian Press, Treasury of Contemporary World Chinese Literature. A selection of poems, prose and essays. * It’s a different version from the version published in Hong Kong.Xu Shi Shi (The Narrative Poem), 2011. Beijing, China: Huaxia Press. A book-length poem.Tiao Wang Zi Ji Chu Hai (Watching Ourselves Set Sail), 2013, Taiwan: Showwe Company.The Snow of Anniversary (Zhou Nian Zhi Xue), 2015, Beijing, China: Zuojia Publishing House. A Selection of Poetry, Prose and Essays 1982 – 2014.Fa Chu Zi Ji De Tian Wen (Give Off One's Own Questions To The Heaven), 2016, Taipei, Taiwan: Showwe Company in Taiwan. A selection of poems and essays that have been banned or are problematic in Mainland China. 


2016  Pacific International Poetry Prize in Taiwan.
2015  Yang Lian won four poetry prizes in China, including “Li Bai Poetry Nominating Prize”; “Zuo Pin” (Works) Magazine’s Prize for Sequence; The First Long Poem Prize (Fo Shan City, China); and the “Da Kun Lun” prize for Outstanding Contribution to Poetry.2014  International Capri Prize, a well-known international poetry prize.
2013  Yang Lian was invited to become a member of The Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression.
2013  In December Yang Lian’s “Concentric Circles Trilogy” (YI, Concentric Circles and Narrative Poem) won the first edition of the Tianduo Award for Long Poems in China.
2012  Nonino International Literature Prize in Italy, the jury was presided by V S Naipaul.
1999  Flaiano International Poetry Prize (Italy) and his Where the Sea Stands Still: New Poems was Poetry Books Society Recommended Translation (UK).  

Yang Lian has been invited to be writer in residence by many international institutions, among others the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Fellow 2012 - 2013), DAAD (Berlin programme, 1991), Yaddo Arts Colony, Amherst College, Bard College (USA), Cove Park (UK), MEET (France), the University of Sydney (Australia), and the University of Auckland (New Zealand).He was invited to be on the jury for the Lettre-Ulysess Award for the Art of Reportage (Germany), the International Contest of Essays (Germany), and acted as jury president for the Crystal Vilenica Award 2008. He has been invited to be an adviser for “Free The Word” (International Literature Festival of PEN), international literature festival Berlin, Poetry International Taipei etc.