Unlike his contemporaries from the heady days of the Beijing Spring in the late 1970s ñ most of whom have either retreated into a very private poetry or stopped writing altogether ñ Yang Lian has gone on to forge a mature and complex poetry whose themes are the search for a Yeatsian mature wisdom, the accommodation of modernity within the ancient and book-haunted Chinese tradition, and a rapprochement between the literatures of East and West.
His poems can be disturbing and strange, haunted as they are by the eerie ordinariness of life and death. But in the end it is a triumphant poetry, wholly engaged with the struggle to be alert to life, wholly engaged in the daily renewal, the search for that 'shore / where we see ourselves set sail'.
All the poems are presented in English and Chinese. Brian Holton also includes a fascinating memoir on translating Yang Lian as well as one sequence translated into Scots.
"Yang Lian is one of the most astonishing poets I've read for years. He has a westernist, modernist sensibility allied with an ancient Chinese, almost shamanistic one. He can both excite and frighten you ñ like MacDiarmid meets Rilke with Samurai sword drawn!"
W.N. Herbert, The Scotsman
"He continues his work bridging Chinese tradition to western modernism. The scope of his creative imagination is astoundingÖ Yang Lian is one of the great world poets of our era."
Klaus Rifberg, Edinburgh Review
"It wouldn't surprise me if he became a future Nobel Laureate. His style is one of extraordinary grandeur and ambitionÖ Without question, the sequence Where the Sea Stands Still has a monumental drive, a sensuous strength and intellectual clarity; it could prove as enduring an achievement as Montale's Xenia or Elytis's The Axion Esti."
David Morley, Stand