Yang Lian was born in Switzerland in 1955, and grew up in Beijing. He began writing when he was sent to the countryside in the 70s, and on his return became one of the first group of young "underground" Chinese poets, who published the influential literary magazine Jintian. Yang Lian's poems became well known and influential inside and outside of China in the 80s, especially when his long poem "Norlang" was criticized widely by the government during the "Anti-Spiritual Pollution" movement.
Yang Lian was invited to visit Australia and New Zealand in 1988, and became a Chinese poet in exile after the Tiananmen massacre. Since that time, he has continued to write and speak out as a highly individual voice in world literature, politics and culture. Yang Lian has published seven selections of poems, two selections of prose, and many essays in Chinese, and has been translated into more than twenty languages including English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Eastern European languages.
Yang Lian was the winner of the Flaiano International Poetry Prize (Italy, 1999), and his book Where the Sea Stands Still: New Poems, was awarded the title of "Poetry Books Society Recommended Translation" (UK, 1999). His three volumes of collected works, Yang Lian Zuo Pin 1982 - 1997 (2 volumes) and Yang Lian Xin Zuo 1998 - 2002, were published by Shang Hai Wen Yi Chu Ban She (Literature and Arts Press of Shanghai); his last two books in English are Yi, a booklength poem, published by Green Integer (Sun & Moon Press, 2001), and Notes of a Blissful Ghost, a selection of poems published by Renditions Paperback, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2002.