YU JIAN (1954— )
YU JIAN (1954— ). Poet, essayist, and playwright. Born and raised in Kunming, a laid-back city in the southwestern part of the country, generally not considered a hotbed for avant-garde literature, Yu Jian is one of the few poets who still possess the innovative spirit of Misty poetry. He has written some of the most interesting Chinese experimental poems, which are characteristically terse and concrete, but ambiguous. He adopts a syntax that contains few adjectives, with nouns acting as verbs. Some of his poems are politically provocative, notably “Ling dang’an” (File 0: The Archive Room), published in 1994 in the first issue of the foremost avant-garde literary journal, Dajia (Great Masters), which is based in Kunming. The poem is a biting commentary on dehumanized life in China under the constant watch of the state. From birth to death, a Chinese person’s life is condensed to a secret file, constantly updated and hidden, its content unknown to the individual in question. Yu’s work lends well to experimental theater. “Guanyu Bi’an de yici Hanyu cixing taolun” (A Study of the Linguistic Features of The Other Shore), his response to Gao Xingjian’s famous play, was staged by his friend Mou Sen, a renowned experimental theater director. Yu’s play takes out the dramatic metaphysical content of the original play and challenges the longing for the “other shore” it expresses. Yu also collaborated with Mou in turning “Ling dang’an” into a play, which toured several cities outside China. Yu won first prize for the 14th Unitas New Poetry Award in Taiwan. Yu lives in Kunming and is a member of the Yunnan Writers’ Association. See also GENERATION III POETS; SPOKEN DRAMA.