A native of Hong County, Sichuan Province, Shang Qin (Shang Ch'in, “Shang bird”), pen name of Luo Yan, also known as Luo Ma, was forced to serve in the Nationalist army in Chengdu in 1945. As a reluctant young soldier, he traveled all over southwestern China, and in 1950 he went to Taiwan with the army, from which he was honorably discharged in 1968 as a sergeant. From 1969 to 1971 he attended the International Writing Program at University of Iowa. Over the years he has held a number of jobs, ranging from clerk, gardener, and owner of a noodle eatery to editor for China Times Weekly. He retired in 1992 and now lives in suburban Taipei, spending most of his time reading, writing, studying Chinese color woodblock prints, and collecting antique ink stands and porcelain.
Shang Qin was first exposed to the works of Lu Xun and Bing Xin when he was locked up in a storage for attempting to run away from the army. He collected folk songs in Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces and started writing poetry. In 1955 he published his poems in the Modern Poetry Quarterly and joined the Modernist School shortly thereafter. He has also been closely associated with the Epoch Poetry Society. Shang Qin was the first poet in Taiwan to take a serious interest in surrealism, which had a profound influence on his prose poems in the 1950s and '60s. To date he has published four books of poetry in Chinese; individual collections have also appeared in English, French, and Swedish translations (see the bibliography).