XI CHUAN, PEN NAME OF LIU JUN (1960— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

XI CHUAN, PEN NAME OF LIU JUN (1960— ). Poet. Widely considered one of the most innovative poets living in China today, Xi Chuan was born in Jiangsu and graduated from Beijing University with a B.A. in English. In their college days, Xi Chuan, Hai Zi, and Luo Yihe were nicknamed the “Three Musketeers” on the Beijing University campus for their poetic gifts. After Hai Zi’s suicide, Xi Chuan undertook the project of collecting, editing, and publishing his friend’s work. Xi Chuan’s early work tends toward expansive, extravagant images, inspired by Li Po, the eighth-century poetical genius, earning him a reputation as a neoclassicist. An admirer of Jorge Luis Borges, Ezra Pound, and many other Western poets, Xi Chuan later combines the influences of European literature and traditional versification in a style that emphasizes clarity, precision, and rhythm, exemplified in poems such as “Yangguang xia de hai” (The Sea in the Sunlight), a modern sonnet in which the formal properties of a traditional form are adapted to modern Chinese to create a composite picture of dynamic images. “Xugou de jiapu” (Fabricated Pedigree), an allegorical poem, represents Xi Chuan’s attempt at reexamining the self in relation to historical events. He also experiments with long narrative poems that make liberal use of colloquial expressions. Among the numerous awards he has received are the 1994 Modern Chinese Poetry Prize and the 2001 Lu Xun Literature Prize. He currently teaches at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.