Ya Xian (Ya Hsien, “mute strings”) is the pen name of Wang Qinglin, who was born in Nanyang, He'nan Province. He joined the military and moved to Taiwan in 1949. After graduating from Cadre Academy, where he majored in drama, he served in the navy. In the 1960s Ya Xian was invited to the International Writing Program at University of Iowa and later earned an M.A. from University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been the chief editor of the Epoch Poetry Quarterly, Young Lion Literature and Art, and, for many years, the literary supplement of the United Daily. He is retired and divides his time between Taiwan and Canada.
Ya Xian had a meteoric writing career. He started writing poetry in the 1950s, reached the zenith of creativity in 1957–60, and stopped writing completely in 1965. The brevity of this period, however, affects neither his status nor his influence as a major poet in Taiwan and, indeed, in modern Chinese poetry as a whole.