Wai-Lim Yip, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Wai-Lim Yip, Ph.D.
  • Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive MC 0410
    Mail Code: MC 0410
    La Jolla , CA 92093-0410

Called by Jerome Rothenberg "The linking figure between American modernism (in-the-line-of-Pound) and Chinese traditions and practices,” Wai-lim Yip has been active as a bicultural poet, translator, critic and theorist between Taiwan and America for over 45 years. He was born in Kwangtung Province, China, in l937. He received his BA (l959), and MA (l96l) in English in Taiwan where be became a leading modernist poet and theorist and has won many literary prizes, including an award from the Ministry of Education and recognition as one of the Ten Major Modern Chinese Poets. In l964, he received an MFA from the University of Iowa for a volume of original English poems, and in l967, he obtained a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Wai-lim Yip's interests are multiple, but his crowning achievement comes from his lifelong commitment to creating and critiquing poetry in a crosscultural context. As a poet in Chinese, he attempts to synthesize the heritage of the Chinese poets of the l930's and l940's, the modernist expressive strategies of the West since Symbolism, and those of classical Chinese poetry. As a poet in English, he creates a kind of syntactical flexibility that accommodates the perceptual priorities of both worlds. As a critic and theorist on East-West comparative poetics, he has provided new pedagogical guidelines for deframing monocultural theoretical hypotheses, leading to truly open dialogues between Chinese and Western cultures in an inter-illuminating and inter-reflective manner. As a translator from Chinese into English, his translations of Wang Wei and his Chinese Poetry: Major Modes and Genres offer a fluid perspective from which one can re-view and, as a result, readjust many current poetic and cultural strategies in the West. As a translator from Western languages into Chinese, he has helped to extend the expressive techniques of contemporary Chinese poetry.

Professory Yip has been with UCSD since 1967, and has played a central role in the Comparative Literature Section as well as in the Program of Chinese Studies. His influence abroad is significant and extensive. In l970 and l974, as Visiting Professor at National Taiwan University, he helped to launch the first Ph. D. Program in East-West Comparative Literature, and again between 1980-82, he took up the Chair Professorship in the Chinese University of Hong Kong where he became instrumental in setting up an M. Phil. in Comparative Literature. While there, he also helped Beijing University to begin their Comparative Literature Studies. He was invited by the Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing University, Fudan University, Shanghai University, Southwest Normal University and The Association of Chinese Writers to give a series of lectures on comparative literature, modernism, postmodernism, modern Chinese poetry in Taiwan, and recent critical theories, including a special session in Shenzhen for representative professors from all universities in China. In May 1986, Beijing Univ. issued his In Search of Common Poetics 尋求跨中西文化的共同文學規律 which became an instant bestseller. At the same time, the 10 books he edited on East-West comparative literature have been avidly read by scholars on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Between l987-l988, Tung-ta Press honored him by putting out a boxed set of five of his books. In October l990, he was featured as the theme poet in the Second International Conference on Literature and Religion organized by Fu-jen University in Taiwan. Many literary histories written between 1991 and 1994 in China identify him as one of the main figures of modern Chinese poetry and critical theory. He was also selected to appear in "Portraits of Modern Chinese Poets" by the Public Television of Taiwan. In l995, he invited ten poets to join him in writing a set of 20 books of poems for children illustrated by noted illustrators as a gift to young readers. His Mother Tree 樹媽媽 was voted by the Cultural Section of the Executive Ministry as the best publication for young readers for the year of 1997. In the same year, a collection of 32 Chinese essays on his work was published: Liao, Tung-liang and Chou, Chih-huang ed., Engraver of Landscapes of Humanity: Essays on Wai-lim Yip's Poetry, Prose, Translations and Critical Theories 人文風景的鐫刻者. In May of l998, he was asked by Beijing University to give the inaugural lecture in the newly established Comparative Literature Lecture Series in celebration of the 100 Anniversary of Beijing University. In the Spring of 1999, he led several avant-garde performance artists from the U.S., (Allan Kaprow, Helen and Newton Harrison) France (Jean-Jacques Lebel) and Japan (Shozo Shimamoto) to do a series of happenings, activities , and performances as well as lectures at the Tainan National College of the Arts under the title Reflections ont the Arts and Nature in the Postindustrial Age, and he himself provided a whole day of (post-Happening) activities entitled "Living Poetry”, which included leading the audience through poetry to the original moment of multisensory, multimedia poetry; meditating poetry; dancing to poetry; body sculptures improvised from poetic images; paintings improvised from poetry; spring float (courtship and marriage songs along a river with floating cups of wine); spring thaw(ice sculptures improvised from poetry provided); spring thunder (with Kaprow); spring poetry-lanterns,as well as a cooking ritual (his poetry with Kaprow's cooking). Since 1998, Anhui Educational Press in China has been working on the publication of his Complete( Chinese) Works, a total of 9 volumes released in August, 2004. To celebrate this event, the 7th Triennial Congress of Chinese Literature Association, August 14-18, 2002 in Nanjing devoted a special workshop to discuss the significance and impact of his work, including the influence of his English writings in the US. He was also asked to give a keynote speech in the same Congress. In September, 2002, the Main Library of National Taiwan University, his alma mater, had an exhibition of his archives (letters, early drafts, photos, journal notes, publications in magazines, some 45 or so of his books and numerous articles). A small conference on his contributions was held to launch this event.

In 2005, in view of his prolific outstanding achievements, the University of California, San Diego confer him the title of Distinguished Professor.

In March 2008, a Conference was devoted to his (Chinese) Poetry” in Beijing co-hosted by Beijing University and Capital Normal University.

In 2005, in view of his prolific outstanding achievements, the University of California, San Diego confer him the title of Distinguished Professor.

In March 2008, a Conference was devoted to his (Chinese) Poetry in Beijing co-hosted by Beijing University and Capital Normal University. The same year, his Expanded Edition of Chinese Poetics 中國詩學增訂版 was reissued as one of the best books in the 20th Century under tghe prestigious Collections called Zhongguo Wenku (中國文庫), or China Archives (for posterity.)

In May 2010, UCSD launched an International Conference on Wai-lim Yip’s total output and a moonlight poetry reading in celebration of his retirement.

In October 2011, he was invited by Beijing University’s New Poetry Research Center to be their FIRST Poet-in-Residence.

In November the same year, Macau University held a Conference on the writings of Wai-lim Yip.

Books (Poetry)

Fugue 賦格

Crossing 愁渡

Edge of Waking 醒之邊緣

The Wild Flower Story 野花的故事

The Voice of Blooming 花開的聲音

The Legend of a Pine and a Bird 松鳥的傳說

Startled: Travelling 驚馳 

Thirty Years of Poetry 三十年詩

The Ferry that cannot be detained 留不住的航渡

Moving toward Maturer Age 移向成熟的年齡

Selected poems 葉維廉詩選 (ed. Yang Kuanghan 楊匡漢編)

Between Landscapes (in English, Pennywhistle Press, Tesque, NM)

The Transcendence of Glaiers 冰河的超越

The Smell or Rains 雨的味道

Ye Wei Lian Shixuan 葉維廉詩選

Between/界/Entre (French translation by Piere Courtaud) Paris: Dialogues and Meditations (2008) with Jonas Yip, bi-lingual edtion (巴黎:對話與冥思)

Criticism and Theory: Ezra Pound's Cathay (Princeton Press)

Phenomenon.Experience.Expression 現象. 經驗. 表現

Order's Growth 秩序的生長

Comparative Poetics 比較詩學

History . Hermeneutics. Aesthetics 歷史. 傳釋. 美學

Reading the Modern and the Postmodern 解讀現代後現代

Chinese Poetics and its Expanded Version 中國詩學, 中國詩學增訂版

Daoist Aesthetics and Western Culture 道家美學與西方文化 and Diffusion of Distances: Dialogues between Chinese and Western Poetics (U.C. Press)

Pound and the Eight Views of Xiao-Xiang 龐德與瀟湘八景

Translations, with critical and theoretical introductory essays: Modern Chinese Poetry, 1955-1965 (Iowa University Press)

Lyrics from Shelters: Modern Chinese Poetry, 1930-1950 (Garland Press)

Hiding the Universe: Poems of Wang Wei (Wushinsha-Grossman Press)

Chinese Poetry: Major Modes and Genres (U.C. Press/ Duke University Press)

Translations into Chinese: T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land)

Translations into Chinese: All the Trees Sing (translations from modern European and Latin American Poets such as St-John Perse, Seferis, Guillen, Paz, Borges, Machado, Celan, Du Bouchet, Montale, Ungaretti., etc.)

Lyrical Prose (in Chinese)

A Million Miles of Winds and Smoke 萬里風煙

The Reeds of Europa 歐羅巴的蘆笛

A Chinese Sea 一個中國的 海

In Search of Arts and Life 尋索: 藝術與人生

The Quest fo Red Leaves 紅葉的追尋

Taking Time to Savor Provence 幽悠細味普羅旺斯

Listening Attentively the Words of Lakes and Mountains 細聽湖山的話語