John Yau

(1950 / Lynn, Massachusetts)

Biography of John Yau

John Yau poet

John Yau (born 1950) is an American poet and critic who lives in New York City. He received his B.A. from Bard College in 1972 and his M.F.A. from Brooklyn College in 1978. He has published over 50 books of poetry, artists' books, fiction, and art criticism.

According to Matthew Rohrer's profile on Yau from Poets & Writers Magazine, Yau's parents settled in Boston after emigrating from China in 1949. His father was a bookkeeper. As a child Yau was friends with the son of the Chinese-born abstract painter John Way. By the late 1960s Yau was exposed to, "a lot of anti-war poetry readings in Boston [and] so I'd heard Robert Bly, Denise Levertov, Galway Kinnell, people like that. I don't know - Robert Kelly (poet) just seemed a different kind of poet. Mysterious, in a way. He was interested in the occult, in gnosticism and abstract art - things that had a particular appeal to me." According to Rohrer, Yau's decision to attend Bard College was motivated by his admiration of Kelly.

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Russian Letter

It is said, the past
sticks to the present

like glue,
that we are flies

struggling to pull free
It is said, someone

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