Xi Chuan

Xi Chuan
(né Liu Jun)
b. 1963, Xuzhou, Jiangsu
Poet, essayist, playwright, professor
Xi Chuan studied in the English Department of Peking University from 1981 to 1985 and became a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in the 1990s. He began poetry writing in 1981 and very quickly established himself as one of the most important new poets in the 1980s. His early poems, such as ‘Gazing into the Starry Sky at Ha’ergai’ (Zai Ha’ergai yangwang xingkong, 1986), are short, lyrical and meditative, even sublime. They are concerned mainly with an almost cosmic correspondence between nature, the universe, history, tradition and the individual. In the spring of 1989, his poet-friend Haizi committed suicide, while his other poet-friend, Luo Yihe, died later that year. These events had a profound impact upon Xi Chuan, whose own poetry took a radically different turn in the 1990s. In works such as ‘Salute’ (Zhijing, 1992) and ‘Discourse of an Eagle’ (Ying de huayü, 1999), he experiments with various hybrid forms of prose and poetry to convey what he now calls a ‘pseudo-philosophy’ (wei zhexue), inquiring into the absurdities and previously overlooked dark shadows of history, human consciousness and reason.
Xi Chuan is the winner of many literary prizes. He has published four books of poetry and two books of essays and has been widely translated.
Van Crevel, Maghiel (1999). ‘Xi Chuan’s “Salute”: Avante-Garde Poetry in a Changing China’. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 11.2 (Fall): 107–49.
Xi, Chuan (2003). ‘What the Eagle Says’. Trans. Maghiel van Crevel. Seneca Review 33.2:28–41.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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