Yu Jian was born in 1954 in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. With the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, his schooling was interrupted, and his parents were forced to leave home to undergo “re-education.” At the age of sixteen, he became an apprentice in a factory north of the city and worked as a riveter and welder. Influenced by his father’s interest in classical Chinese poetry and aided by frequent power failures at the factory, Yu Jian became a voracious reader and he began writing his first poems in free verse. In 1980, when university education once again became a possibility, he became a student in the department of Chinese Language and Literature Yunnan University. In 1986, Shikan, China’s most prestigious official poetry magazine, published his poem “No. 6 Shangyi Street.” He later published the controversial long poem File Zero (1994), as well as Notes from the Human World (1999), a collection of travel sketches and impressions of daily life.. His five-volume collection of selected poetry and prose, The Yu Jian Collection, was published in 2004. He has written three plays, In Connection with AIDS, About an Evening Conversation, and About a Discussion on the Far Shore of the Nature of Chinese Words.
Steve Bradbury's translation of Hsia Yu's Salsa (Zephyr Press, 2014) was shortlisted for the Lucien Stryk Prize. He lives in Ft. White, Florida, near the headsprings of the Ichetucknee River.