A math teacher by day, Ya Shi lives 1,000 miles from the Beijing literary scene, but is celebrated among lovers of Chinese poetry from the conservative to the avant-garde. His jagged and intense short lyrics, wild nature sonnets, punchy couplets, and genre-bending, surreal poetic essays daringly combine iconoclasm and heart. From poems about rock moths to monks to cartoon cats, his works stand outside conventional structures and forms of Chinese poetry, and find their roots instead in the independent spirit, folk imagination and tough music of the people of Sichuan.
Ya Shi was born in 1966, grew up during the Cultural Revolution and studied mathematics at Beijing University. He embarked on his poetry career in 1990, becoming the editor of an influential underground magazine, winning the prestigious Liu Li'an prize, and publishing several collections of poetry through official and unofficial channels. By remaining in Sichuan province most of his adult life, he has eschewed the Beijing literary scene, and works mainly in seclusion from a larger literary community, engaging with readers online and through the samizdat publications of south China. He has gained a significant following in China of people attracted to his imagination and daring writing. He teaches mathematics in a city near Chengdu.
Translated from Chinese by Nick Admussen
136 pages | Bilingual Chinese/English
Paperback | ISBN 978-1-938890-89-5 (trade paper)