University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)
525 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
6:00pm: Reception ~ UMMA Commons Area
7:00pm: Poetry Reading ~ UMMA Stern Auditorium
Yang Lian will be introduced by Kelly Askew, Director of the African Studies Center, and moderated by Professor San Duanmu, U-M Dept. of Linguistics.
Yang Lian was born in Bern (Switzerland) in 1955, where his parents were in the diplomatic service, and grew up in Beijing. Like millions of other young people, he was sent to the countryside for re-education during the final years of the Cultural Revolution. After the death of his mother in 1976, Yang began to write poetry. Back in Beijing, as one of the leading experimental poets, he was associated with the underground literary periodical Jintian (Today).
Yang Lian is best known as a poet, but he also writes prose, literary criticism and art criticism. His work, which comprises half a score of poetry collections and two volumes of prose, has been translated into over twenty languages. It includes: Dead in Exile (1989), Masks & Crocodile (1990), Non-person Singular (1995), Yi (2002), Notes of a Blissful Ghost (2002) and Concentric Circles (2006). He is regarded as one of the most representative voices of present-day Chinese literature.
A recent passion and project of Yang Lian is to encourage the production and translation of poetry written in dialects of Chinese: Sichuan dialect, Shanghainese and Beijing dialect. There is currently no vehicle for writing poetry in these languages since Chinese orthography supports Mandarin only. Yang has been closely involved with a collective of Slovenian poets who, despite the small population of their country, support poetic production in nine Slovene dialects. He is currently working with Kelly Askew (U-M) and a formerly exiled Kenyan poet, Abdilatif Abdalla, on translating poetry composed in various dialects of Swahili into English and from English into dialect forms of Chinese. The idea is ultimately to produce a volume on ‘dialect poetry’, written in the shadows of dominant, politically powerful, languages (Mandarin and Standardized Swahili being but two examples).
Organized by the African Studies Center and co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, the International Institute, and the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan.