Tianxin Cai

Portrait Tianxin Cai
© Hartwig Klappert

Tianxin Cai was born in Huangyan, in the South East of the People’s Republic of China, in 1963. He studied mathematics and received a doctorate with a dissertation on number theory from Shandong University in 1987. For several years Cai was a visiting lecturer and professor in France and North and South America. His publications include many research papers on mathematics in prestigious journals.  Tianxin Cai is also considered to be among the most active young Chinese avant-garde authors.  He has participated in international poetry festivals in Medellín, Colombia, and Rosario, Argentina, as well as in Zurich, Genoa, Vilenica, Slovenia, and Durban, South Africa.  Since the publication of his first volume of poetry ‘Bi An'(t: Shore), in 1992, another three volumes have appeared in China.  A Spanish collection of his lyrical work, ‘La desnudez antigua’ was published in Colombia in 2002.  Although he prefers to deal with everyday situations, the author tends to employ a surrealist perspective, as is conveyed in the poem ‘Sunlight’. Quote: “The sun is mango. / Cut open the day. / Left uncut, the evening. / We swallow sunlight / Making strong muscles. / While we sleep / Sunlight flows into our blood / Travels throughout our body. / On its journey meets / Another piece of sunlight.”  Using simplified language, he intensifies images of nature and metaphors of time and infinity; in the same way, he enhances the sensual aesthetic of space by the bare form of his lines.  Since 1995, Tianxin Cai has been editing the biannual literary magazine ‘Apollinaire’, which has developed into one of the most important underground magazines in China.  Apart from poetry he is engaged in writing travelogues and essays. In addition, he has translated into Chinese various authors, including Elizabeth Bishop, Margaret Atwood, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel García Márquez.  His biography on Elizabeth Bishop entitled ‘Bei Fang, Nan Fang'(t: North and South), was published in 2000, it depicts her journeys as well as her lyrical work.  A volume of translations of American poetry and prose appeared in 2003, and another volume of essays in the same year.  Cai is a regular columnist in the Shanghai magazine ‘Book City’, considered to be the Chinese ‘New Yorker’. This year he edited a selection of 20th century poetry in two volumes.  Tianxin Cai lives in Hangzhou, where he is a professor of mathematics at Zhejiang University.

© international literature festival berlin