Our first guests at Volcano Fridays

Yang Lian is a Chinese poet born in 1955 in Bern, Switzerland. He started writing poetry in the countryside of China in the 1970’s after leaving Beijing with his family to endure a ‘re-education through labour’. His traditional Chinese poetry, banned under Mao Zedong, turned towards a more modernist type of writing when joining his first group of poets the Misty Poets in 1979.

After being criticized by the Chinese government during the ‘Anti-Spiritual Pollution’ movement in 1983 for writing his poem ‘Norlang’, his work started to be known in and out of China and he was then invited to visit Australia and New Zealand. In 1989, he was granted the refugee status in New Zealand as his work was blacklisted in China after protesting against the Chinese government during the Tiananmen Square protests, also called the June Fourth Incident, where thousands of people were killed by the Chinese military forces.

Yang Lian has travelled broadly and worked with many poets from all around the world. He now lives in Berlin. He has published eleven collections of poems, two collections of prose and one selection of essays in Chinese and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages including English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.

This multi-awarded Chinese poet was a professor at European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland and the director of Unique Mother Tongue, an international seminar series based in London since 2005.

by: Enora Roux 

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