Translations of Poems by Yang Lian

Main Article Content

Mabel Lee


Biographical note on Yang Lian

Yang Lian grew up in Beijing and began to establish his credentials as a poet from 1979. His early collections in China include Ritualisation of the Soul (1985), Desolate Soul (1986), Yellow (1989) and his long poem Yi that was first published under the title Sun and Man (1991). His poetry began to appear in English translations by John Minford, Sean Golden and Alisa Joyce in the Hong Kong translation magazine Renditions (1983 and 1985). He travelled to Australia in 1988, and then to New Zealand in 1989. After the June 4 events in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, he sought and obtained New Zealand citizenship. In 1991 he relocated to London where he now lives. His poems, essays and criticism have been collected in Yang Lian’s Works, 1982–1997 (1998) in two volumes and amounting to over 1000 pages, and in Yang Lian’s New Works, 1998-2002 (2003). Yang Lian’s major collections in English include: Masks and Crocodile (1990), The Dead in Exile (1990) and Yi (2002), translated by Mabel Lee; Non-Person Singular (1996), Where the Sea Stands Still (1999), Notes of a Blissful Ghost (2002), Concentric Circles (2005), translated by Brian Holton; and Unreal City: A Chinese Poet in Auckland (2006), translated by Jacob Edmond and Hilary Chung. Selections of his poems have been translated in over thirty languages, and have enabled him to travel regularly to literary festivals all over the world. In 1999 he won the Flaiano International Prize for Poetry.

Article Details

Cultural Works
Author Biography

Mabel Lee

MABEL LEE Ph.D. was a member of the academic staff of the University of Sydney, 1966-2000, where she now retains a position as Honorary Associate in the School of Languages and Cultures and continues to publish her research on modern and contemporary Chinese intellectual history and literature. She has been co-editor of the two University of Sydney series East Asian Series and World Literature Series since the mid-1980s, and was for twenty years assistant editor of The Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (JOSA). From the early 1990s, as her research turned to focus on contemporary Chinese writers, she also began to work on literary translation. She has translated Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian’s novels Soul Mountain (2000) and One Man’s Bible (2002), his collection of short stories Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather (2004), and his collection of critical writings The Case for Literature (2006). She has also translated three books of poetry by Yang Lian, winner of the 1999 Flaiano International Prize for Poetry: Masks and Crocodile (1990), The Dead in Exile (1990) and Yi (2002). She was elected first president of the Chinese Studies Association of Australia in 1989, and she has been awarded the NSW Premier’s Prize for Translation and the PEN Medallion (2001), the Centenary of Federation Medal “for service to Australian Society and literature” (2003), and the University of Sydney Alumni Award “for her commitment to the promotion of Asian scholarship and creativity in Australia” (2003). In 2004 she became an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.