JOHN YAU Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: John Yau                                                                         
Born: 1950                                                                             
John Yau (born 1950) is an American poet and critic who lives in New York City.       
According to Matthew Rohrer's profile on Yau from Poets and Writers Magazine,         
Yau's parents settled in Boston after emigrating from China in 1949. Yau               
characterizes his father as an outsider - "My father was half English and half         
Chinese [...] so he never fit in." As a child Yau was friends with the son of         
the Chinese-born abstract painter John Way. By the late 1960's 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         
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.                                                           
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. His most recent book is Paradiso Diaspora (2006).         
His collections of poetry include Borrowed Love Poems (Penguin, 2002), Forbidden       
Entries (1996), Berlin Diptychon(1995), Edificio Sayonara (1992), and Corpse and       
Mirror (1983), a National Poetry Series book selected by John Ashbery (to whom         
he is often compared). Artists' books include books with Hanns Schimannsky,           
Archie Rand,Norman Bluhm, and Jurgen Partenheimer (a.o.), his books of art             
criticism include The United States of Jasper Johns (1996) and In the Realm of         
Appearances: The Art of Andy Warhol (1993). He has also edited Fetish (1998), a       
fiction anthology.                                                                     
Yau's honors include the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the           
Jerome Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review, and grants from the             
National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the         
General Electric Foundation. He currently teaches art criticism at Mason Gross         
School of the Arts, Rutgers University.