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Yu Ouyang (1955 – )

Ouyang Yu Ouyang Yu, photo taken by Adam Elwood.

Ouyang Yu was born in Huangzhou, China, in 1955. In 1983 he graduated from Wuhan Institute of Hydro-Electric Engineering (now Wuhan University) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Literature, and in 1989 he completed a Master of Arts in Australian and English Literature at East China Normal University in Shanghai. After a brief period as a lecturer in English at Wuhan University, he left China for Australia in 1991 to commence a PhD at La Trobe University on the representation of the Chinese in Australian literature. He completed his doctorate in 1995.

Since arriving in Australia, Yu has commenced an extraordinarily prolific literary career as a poet, critic, translator, editor and novelist. In 1996, he co-founded Australia’s first Chinese-language literary journal Otherland [Yuanxiang], which he has continued to run as editor. He has received a number of grants and awards for his work, both as an editor and translator, and has spent periods as a writer-in-residence and as a research fellow at various Australian universities. He was also Professor of Australian Literature at Wuhan Univerisity in China from 2005-2008.

Yu’s poems, written both in English and in Chinese, have appeared in numerous Australian literary journals and newspapers, and have been frequently anthologised. His first poetry collection, Moon Over Melbourne, was published in 1995, and has been followed by a dozen further collections. He has also published novels in both Chinese (Fen nu Wu Zili [The Angry Wu Zili], 1999), and English (The Eastern Slopes Chronicle, 2002). Noted particularly for his often caustic exploration of Australian cultural and multicultural identities, Yu is also recognized for his fine command of poetic craft.

His latest book of Chinese poetry, titled, shifeishi (poemnonpoem), was published in September, 2011, by Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House. And his latest book of bilingual poetry, Self Translation, was published by Transit Lounge in August 2012.

Ouyang Yu was nominated one of the Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians for the year 2011 as well as the Top 10 most influential writers of Chinese origin in the Chinese diaspora.


Poetry Collections
  • Moon over Melbourne: Poems (Melbourne: Papyrus Publishing, 1995).
  • Mo’erben Zhi Xia (Chongqing, China: Chonging chu ban she, 1998).
  • B xi lie (Kingsbury, Victoria: Aodaliya “Yuanxiang” za zhi bian ji bu, 2001).
  • Two Hearts, Two Tongues and Rain-Coloured Eyes (Sydney: Wild Peony, 2002).
  • Wo Cao ([Kingsbury, Vic]: Otherland, 2003).
  • Foreign Matter (Kingsbury, Vic: Otherland, 2003).
  • Xian Du (Kingsbury, Vic: Otherland, 2004).
  • New and Selected Poems (Applecross, WA: Salt Publishing, 2004).
  • Er Du Piao Liu (Kingsbury, Victoria: Otherland, 2005).
  • Listening To (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2006).
  • The Kingsbury Tales (Blackheath, NSW: Brandl and Schlesinger, 2008).
  • Reality Dreams (Warner’s Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, [2008]).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Kam Louie, ‘Returnee Scholars: Ouyang Yu, the Displaced Poet and the Sea Turtle,’ in Yu, ed., Bias: Offensively Chinese/Australian: A Collection of Essays on China and Australia (Kingsbury, Vic: Otherland, 2007), pp. 249–63.
  • Nicholas Jose, ‘The Wanderer: Ouyang Yu,’ in Yu, Two Hears, Two Tongues and Rain-Coloured Eyes (Broadway, NSW: Wild Peony, 2002), pp. i-iv.
  • John McLaren, Introduction, in Yu, Songs of the Last Chinese Poet (Broadway, NSW: Wild Peony, 1997), pp. ix–xii.
  • Wenche Ommundsen, ‘Not for the Faint-Hearted: Ouyang Yu: The Angry Chinese Poet,’ Meanjin 57.3 (1998): 595–609.
  • Ouyang Yu, ‘The Education of a Poet,’ in John Kinsella, ed., School Days (Fremantle, WA: Fremantle Press, 2006): pp. 110–15.
  • Ouyang Yu, ‘Multicultural Poetry as Unwritten in China or the Night You Want to Sleep Away with or On,’ in Yu, ed., Bias: Offensively Chinese/Australian: A Collection of Essays on China and Australia (Kingsbury, Vic: Otherland, 2007), pp. 25–32.