Born in Zhanghua in central Taiwan, Lin Hengtai (Lin Heng-t'ai) received a B.A. in education from National Taiwan Normal University and taught middle school for twenty-five years. Since he retired, he has taught Japanese at various colleges.
In 1947 Lin became a member of the Silver Bell Literary Society, which disbanded in 1949 under political repression. He published his first book of poetry in Japanese in 1949 but had begun writing poetry in Chinese a year earlier. In the 1950s he was active in the Modern Poetry Quarterly and played a major role, through both creative work and literary theory, in the Modernist School founded by Ji Xian in 1956. In 1964 he became a founding member of the Bamboo Hat Poetry Society and served as the first chief editor of its journal, emphasizing modernity with a local identity. Lin coined the term “the translingual generation” in 1967 to refer to the generation of Taiwanese poets who made the painstaking transition from Japanese to Chinese as the medium of their creative work. To date Lin has published five books of poetry and three volumes of literary criticism.