Wang Ching-hsien, who writes as Yang Mu, was born in Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan. After receiving a B.A. in English from the Christian Tung-hai University and completing mandatory military service, he earned an M.F.A. from University of Iowa in 1966. He went on to study comparative literature with the late Shih-hsiang Ch'en at University of California, Berkeley, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1970. He is a professor of comparative literature at University of Washington, Seattle. Since 1996 he has also served as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Dong Hwa University in his hometown.
Yang Mu started writing poetry while in high school and published his first book of poetry, By the Water's Edge, in 1960. Under the pen name Ye Shan, he was first known in the 1950s and 1960s for his sensuous, classically flavored poetry, although he was equally interested in symbolism and high modernism. The adoption in 1972 of the name Yang Mu signaled a new direction in his poetry, toward bolder artistic experimentation on one hand and critical reflections on history, philosophy, and social reality on the other. Yang Mu is a leading essayist, a prolific editor, and a highly respected literary scholar who publishes in both Chinese and English. To date he has published twelve books of original poetry in Chinese and two volumes of poems in English translation (see the bibliography).