The Last Lyric

Yu Xinqiao, jailed for eight years on dubious charges by the Chinese government, is one of the most popular poets in China today. The Last Lyric is the first book-length English translation of Yu’s poetry.

Yunte Huang is a poet and a professor of English at UC Santa Barbara. The award-winning author of Charlie Chan, he is the editor of The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature.

Yu Xinqiao The Last Lyric
Translated by Yunte Huang • 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0-9987438-3-7 • $18
Cover Art by Yu Xinqiao entitled “Hurry Up, Seagull”

In his poem, “Poetry Cannot Fix You” Yu Xinqiao asserts that poetry can fix many things, just not the self or a loved one (“you”). But in an address before the Dalai Lama that appears at the end of this book, ably translated by scholar and poet, Yunte Huang, he argues for poetry’s moral power: “In contemporary China, I must emphasize another aspect of poetry, that is, we must rebuild a hometown of justice and a homeland of conscience grounded in poetry. Poetry must shoulder moral obligations, must use its beauty and power like that of a revengeful goddess and intervene into the public arena that is becoming more and more ruthless and barbaric.” Born in 1968, Yu was imprisoned for eight years in China after calling in 1993 for a “Chinese Renaissance Movement.” His poems seem deliberately understated, full of unexpected reversals: “The dead are mourning the living”; and, because poetry can’t fix you, “That’s why I love poetry all my life.” The Last Lyric presents Yu’s work in Chinese and in English. Readers of English can now discover why Yu’s work is so popular (and so distrusted by the regime) in China.


Luminous and haunting, this two-way street of poetry and translation transports us to places wherein a dewdrop can drown a pair of phoenixes, the dead mourn the living, and a gravedigger unearths the bones of the future. Yu Xinqiao is a dynamic and masterful force in contemporary Chinese poetry, recalling the early work of Bei Dao and Gu Cheng. Yunte Huang’s artful recreation safely lands on the other side of the translational abyss, capturing the nuances of Yu’s voice and vitality in English. These are poems to be savored again and again.
— Jennifer Feeley translator of Not Written Words: Selected Poetry of Xi Xi

Striated, astringent musculature in motion yet supple, reflective sentience at rest, the lines of Yu Xinqiao’s poetry move in a choreography of buoyant, freeing despair.  The words bound within this volume are not going to wait for you–they are running ahead of us in the original poems and Yunte Huang’s exact and exacting translations.
— Jonathan Stalling Editor, Chinese Literature Today, author of Lost Wax: Translation Through the Void

Like a lone seagull braving the storms of life and recent Chinese history, Yu Xinqiao, often labeled a dissident poet, is quintessentially a lover of nature and humanity. This book, in Yunte Huang’s lucid translation, is the best evidence of Yu’s lyrical talent and existential courage. It will further enhance Yu’s unique standing as a contemporary Chinese poet in the English-speaking world.
— Mai Mang (Yibing Huang)