Yu Guangzhong Passes Away – Poetry News December 18th

We begin the week with the sad news that the renowned Chinese poet, Yu Guangzhong has died at the age of 89 having been admitted to hospital last week with a suspected stroke.

Yu Guangzhong, renowned Chinese poet passes away

The sudden death of Yu Guangzhong (also known as Yu Kwang-Chung) the Chinese poet and renowned contemporary writer has caused a big stir amongst his many followers with many of them taking to social media sites to quote some of his most famous poetry. The poet who was 89 and had last been seen in public in October for his birthday had been suffering with ill health for most of the last year. He was admitted to hospital last week with a suspected mini-stroke but was transferred to the intensive care unit with Pneumonia, it is suspected that he died of pulmonary complications.

Born in 1928 in Nanjing in China, Yu was a student at Xiamen University when he began writing in 1949. The Chinese Civil War forced Yu and his family to migrate to Taiwan, by means of Hong Kong in 1950. It was here that he published his first poems, essays and even some translations. He graduated in 1952 from National Taiwan University.

During his lengthy literary career Yu, who was a prolific writer penned around 80 books of poetry and prose. Some of his books are currently in use as textbooks in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China at both the high school and university level. His works Homesickness, My Four Hypothetical Enemies and Listen to the Cold Rain are all used as standard literature texts for Chinese in both China and Taiwan.

Much of his work that was written after 1970 focused on the longing felt by both soldiers and citizens for the China they had left behind during the Chinese Civil War when they fled to Taiwan. His poems gave a sense of nostalgia to people’s memories and it is his poem “Nostaligia” that he is possibly best known for.

He also wrote songs, literary critiques and even a number of translations – in addition to Chinese he also spoke English, French German, Italian, Spanish and a little Russian – he was one of the very first Taiwanese students to be awarded a degree in a foreign language. He also held a Masters in Fine Arts.

Yu won a number of awards during his lifetime, including the National Culture and Arts Award for new poetry in 1989, and the Cultural Award, presented by the Ministry of Culture in 2014.

In addition to his writing Yu also spent much of his life teaching others, he worked as a professor and dean at the National Sun Yat-Sen University- where he was a professor emeritus from 1985 until he retired, he also taught at the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, and Michigan State University.

He is survived by his wife, Fan Wo-tsun and daughters.

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