Yang Mu

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Yang Mu
楊牧
Yang Mu portrait.jpg
Born September 6, 1940
Hualien County, Taiwan
Occupation Poet, essayist, critic, professor in classical Chinese literature
Language Chinese and English
Nationality Taiwan
Education Ph.D of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley
Period 1956–present
Genre Poetry and prose
Notable awards National Culture and Arts Award (國家文藝獎)
Best Chinese Writing in the World (世界華文文學獎)
Newman Prize for Chinese Literature (紐曼華語文學獎)
Cikada Prize (瑞典蟬獎)
Website
www.yangmu.com

Yang Mu (traditional Chinese:楊牧;simplified Chinese:杨牧; pinyin:Yáng Mù) is the pen name of a Taiwanese poet, essayist and critic in Chinese language.[1] He was born as Wang Ching-hsien (王靖獻) on September 6, 1940 in Hualien County, Taiwan.[2] As one of the representative figures in the field of contemporary Taiwanese literature, he is famous for combining the graceful style and writing techniques of Chinese classical poetry with elements of Western culture. Apart from romantic feelings, his works also reflect strong awareness of humanistic concern, which has thus brought him widespread attention and high respect. He was named the laureate of the 2013 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, making him the first poet and the first Taiwanese writer to win the award.

Personal life[edit]

When he was 16, only a middle school student, he started off using the pen name Ye Shan (Chinese: 葉珊) and publishing his own works in several poetry magazines such as Blue Star, Modern Poetry and Genesis. Then he entered Tunghai University and studied history.[1] However, he later found that it went against his genuine interest and finally transferred to the Department of Foreign Languages to pursue his literary ideals. At that time, Yang Mu exposed himself to British romantic poetry and was directly influenced by some defining members of the English Romantic Movement, like William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.

After his graduation from Tunghai University, Yang Mu chose to go to the United States for further study. In 1966, he obtained his Master of Fine Arts (English: Creative Writing) at the University of Iowa.[1] Notably, a group of writers who later have become leading figures in the literary scene in contemporary Taiwan like Bai Xianyong, Yu Guangzhong, Ye Weilian and Wang Wenxing, are all his alumni at UI. And in 1971, he gained Ph.D of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.[3] His studying in America, obviously, contributed to the changes of his poetry style. Since 1972, he has written a series of works to convey his deep concern about the social reality under his new pen name Yang Mu (Chinese: 楊牧). Changing from emphasizing sentimental and romantic feelings to intervening in social issues, the works in Yang Mu's later period appear to be more calm, reserved and profound.

Yang Mu used to teach at National Taiwan University (1975–76,1983–84), Princeton University (1978–79), and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (1991–94); during 1996-2001 he was Professor of Chinese and Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Dong Hwa University in Hualian, Taiwan; and during 2002-06, the Distinguished Research Fellow and Director in the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of Washington and Chair Professor of Taiwanese Literature at National Chengchi University.[4]

Major works[edit]

As a prolific writer, Yang Mu has published 14 poetry collections, 15 prose collections and 1 verse play so far. His early works include On the Water Margin (Chinese: 水之湄), Flower Season (Chinese: 花季), Lantern Boat (Chinese: 燈船) and Legends (Chinese: 傳說). These poetry collections were published under the pen name Ye Shan (葉珊) and were publicly thought to have created a new way of writing romantic poems.

Later, he was known to his readers as Yang Mu (楊牧) and published other 12 poetry collections such as Manuscripts Sealed in a Bottle (Chinese: 瓶中稿), Songs of the Little Dipper (Chinese: 北斗行), A Game of Taboos (Chinese: 禁忌的遊戲), The Coast with Seven Turns (Chinese: 海岸七疊),Someone (Chinese: 有人) Complete Fables (Chinese: 完整的寓言), Ventures (Chinese: 涉事), Scale Insect (Chinese: 介殼蟲), Songs long and short (Chinese: 長短歌行) and so forth till now. Among them, Songs of the Little Dipper (Chinese: 北斗行) published in 1978, was prefaced by the famous Taiwanese novelist Wang Wenxing (Chinese: 王文興). In this preface, Wang spoke highly of its success in applying language and said that it took an important step towards achieving the new order of modern Chinese poetry.

Wu Feng: A Play in Four Acts (Chinese: 吳鳳), a verse play published in 1979, was his another notable work. Through the narration of a story based on Taiwanese history, Yang Mu expressed his praise for benevolence and human rationality. As a versatile writer, Yang Mu's prose collections have also received lots of recognition. These works are mainly represented by Annual Ring (Chinese: 年輪), Storms over Hills and Ocean (Chinese: 山風海雨), The Completion of a Poem (Chinese: 一首詩的完成), The Midday Hawk (Chinese: 亭午之鷹) and Then as I Went Leaving (Chinese: 昔我往矣). They share some common themes, ranging from hometown memories to social criticism.

Yang Mu's works have been translated into English, German, French, Japanese, Swedish Dutch, etc. No trace of the Gardener: Poems of Yang Mu (translated by Lawrence R. Smith & Michelle Yeh, New Haven: Ct. Yale University Press, 1998.) and The Forbidden Game and Video Poems: The Poetry of Yang Mu and Lo Ch'ing. (translated by Joseph R. Allen, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993.) are two of his poetry collections available in English.[1]

Awards[edit]

Year Award
1971 Shi Zong Award (Chinese: 詩宗獎)
1979,1987 China Times Prize for Literature (Chinese: 時報文學獎)
1990 Wu Sanlian Literary Award (Chinese: 吳三連文學獎)
1996–2001 Award from the Foundation for the Advancement of Outstanding Scholarship (Chinese: 財團法人傑出人才發展基金會講座)
2000 National Culture and Arts Award (Chinese: 國家文藝獎)
2007 Best Chinese Writing in the World (Chinese: 世界華文文學獎)
2013 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature (Chinese: 紐曼華語文學獎)
2016 Cikada Prize (Chinese: 瑞典蟬獎)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Yang Mu". Renditions.org. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  2. ^ "Yang Mu" (in Chinese). Taiwan Literature Library, National Dong Hwa University. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  3. ^ "Yang Mu". Dictionary of Modern Chinese Writers (in Chinese). 
  4. ^ 系所成員: 王靖獻 [Department members: Wang Jing Xian] (in Chinese). National Chengchi University. Archived from the original on 2012-04-07. 
  • No Trace of the Gardener: Poems of Yang Mu. Trans. Lawrence R. Smith and Michelle Yeh. London: Yale University Press, 1998. Print. ISBN 978-0300070705
  • Wong, Lisa Laiming. Rays of the Searching Sun: The Transcultural Poetics of Yang Mu. New York: P. I. E. Peter Lang, 2009. Print. ISBN 978-9052015453

External links[edit]