Poetry International Poetry International

Xi Chuan

Xi Chuan

Xi Chuan

(China, 1963)

Xi Chuan (official name Liu Jun), poet, essayist, translator, was born in the City of Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, in 1963. He studied English literature at the Peking University from 1981 to 1985, and later worked as an editor for the magazine Huangqiu (Globe Monthly) for eight years. He was a visiting scholar to the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, in 2002, and a visiting adjunct professor to New York University in 2007, the Orion Scholar to the University of Victoria, Canada in 2009. He is currently teaching Classical Chinese Literature at the School of Liberal Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

Xi Chuan is one of the most influential poets in contemporary China. He has been well known in the Chinese literary scene since his student days. In 1988, he founded, with friends, the unofficial poetry journal Qingxiang (Tendency), which was, however, banned after three issues. From 1990 to 1995 he worked as an editor for the unofficial magazine Xiandai Hanshi (Modern Chinese Poetry). He is now one of the two chief-editors of the magazine Dangdai Gouji Shitan (Contemporary World Poetry).

He has published five collections of poems to date. His series of poems Jinghua Shuiyue (Flowers in the Mirror and the Moon on the Water) was adapted into an experimental play directed by Meng Jinghui and was well accepted at the 35th Festival Internacional Cervantino, Mexico, 2007. In 2005, the Italian visual Artist Marco Mereo Rotelli made a giant installation named Poetry Island with 12 poems from 12 poets (including Adonis, Yves Bonnefoy, Charles Tomlinson, Tadeusz Rozewicz and Xi Chuan) and exhibited it at the 51st La Biennale di Venezia. The composer Guo Wenjing turned Xi Chuan’s poem ‘Yuanyou’ (Long Journey) into a piece of music and was performed in 2004 by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart.

In 1997 he edited the collected works of the poet-hero Hai Zhi, who committed suicide in 1989. He also works as a translator, mainly of poetry. In addition to African and English poetry, he has translated works by Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges, Czesław Miłosz and Olav. H. Hauge into Chinese. The translations of his poems and essays appeared in American, Canadian, French, British, Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, Danish, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Indian, Korean, Brazilian, Venezuelan anthologies, magazines and journals, including the London Times Literary Supplement and the Boston Review.

Xi Chuan has been awarded numerous prizes, including: in 1994, the Modern Chinese Poetry Prize; in 1999, one of the top ten winners at the Weimar International Essay Prize Contest; in 2001, the national Lu Xun Prize. A series of grants made his long visits abroad possible, in various places, including India (UNESCO-ASCHBERG bursaries of artists), the United States (Freeman Foundation fellowship), Italy (Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship), and Germany (Kulturstiftung des Bundes fellowship). He attended the 1995 Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, the 1997 Biennale Internationale des Poètes en Val-de-Marne in Paris, the 2002 Chicago Humanities Festival, USA, and the 2004 and 2008 Berlin International Literature Festival, Germany. He was the Curator for Chinese Poetry Posters Exhibition of the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair. Xi Chuan lives in Beijing.


Poetry collections
Dayi Ruci (Roughly Speaking), Hunan wenyi chubanshe, Changsha, 1997
Ying de Huayu (What the Eagle Says), 1999
Zhijing (Salute), 1992 
Geren Haowu (Private Preferences), Zuojia chubanshe, Beijing, 2008


Xi Chuan’s blog site (in Chinese)
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Gefinancierd door de Europese Unie
Elise Mathilde Fonds
Stichting Verzameling van Wijngaarden-Boot
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère