JI XIAN (1913— ), A.K.A. CHI HSIEN, PEN NAME OF LU YU - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

JI XIAN (1913— ), A.K.A. CHI HSIEN, PEN NAME OF LU YU. Poet. Born in Qingyuan, Hebei Province, Ji Xian graduated from Suzhou Art School in 1933. Early in his career, Ji Xian, under the pen name Lu Yishi (Louis), published Yishi shi ji (Poems by Yishi), Chufa (Setting Out), and Xiatian (Summer), among other poetry collections. In the 1930s and early 1940s, he was an active member of a circle of poets who advocated “a completely new poetry” both in form and in content, a free verse invested with modern consciousness. He founded Huo shan (Mountain of Fire) and Shi lingtu (Territory of Poetry), and cofounded Xin shi (New Poetry) with Dai Wangshu, using these journals as a platform to advance the development of modern Chinese poetry. In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, Ji Xian published many poems and critical essays and became a rising star.

In 1948, he went to Taiwan and began a 25-year teaching career in a Taipei middle school, where he worked until his retirement in 1973, while continuing to pursue an active writing career under the new pen name, Ji Xian. He assumed stewardship in Taiwan’s modernist poetry movement and with Xiandai shi (Modern Poetry), a literary quarterly he cofounded in 1953, he promoted “cross-transplantation” in an attempt to bring Western modernist concepts and techniques to Chinese poetry. He favored the poetics of Baudelaire and preferred poetry of ideas to poetry of emotions.

Ji Xian has had a long and distinguished career. From the early 20th century to the 21st century, from the mainland to Taiwan and finally to the United States in 1976, he has faithfully adhered to the principle that poetry is an elitist art form of personal expression and that it should be separated from political propaganda or the representation of popular sentiments. His own poems can be decadent, crisp, playful, or humorous. See also MODERN POETRY MOVEMENT IN TAIWAN; MODERNISTS.