Chen Yingwen, who writes under the name Chen Li (Ch'en Li), was born and raised in Hualian, on the east coast of Taiwan. He graduated from the English Department of National Taiwan Normal University in 1976 and has since been a middle school teacher. In recent years he has also taught creative writing at National Dong Hwa University in his hometown.
Chen started writing poetry in the 1970s, under the influence of modernism. He turned to social and political themes in the 1980s, and in the 1990s has explored a wide range of subjects and styles, combining formal and linguistic experiments with concern for indigenous cultures and the formation of a new Taiwanese identity.
To date Chen has published seven books of poetry. He is also a prolific prose writer and translator. In collaboration with his wife, literary critic Zhang Fenling (Chang Fen-ling), he has translated the work of a large number of Latin American and East European poets into Chinese, including Neruda and Szymborska. In 1999 he was invited to Rotterdam Poetry International.