John Yau '78
Keynote Speaker, Distinguished Alumnus Award
John Yau '78 is a poet, fiction writer, renowned art critic and college professor who has amassed an impressive number of awards and honors. He is widely celebrated as one of the most influential Chinese-American writers of his generation.
Yau has published more than 50 books of poetry, fiction and art criticism. His writing often deals provocatively with racial identity, and his distinctive use of language has earned him a reputation as an innovative literary craftsman.
His first book of poetry, Corpse and Mirror, was a National Poetry Series book selection. John Ashbery, a former Brooklyn College professor and Pulitzer Prize winner, had a major impact on Yau's career and encouraged him to pursue art criticism. Yau has curated several important art exhibitions and was the Ahmanson Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Yau currently publishes an online magazine, Hyperallergic Weekend; teaches art history at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University; is the publisher of a small press, Black Square Editions; and does freelance writing.
Yau earned his bachelor of arts from Bard College in 1972 and his master of fine arts from Brooklyn College in 1978. His many awards include the French government's Chevalier in Order of Arts and Letters; the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the Academy of American Poets' Lavan Award; three New York Foundation for the Arts awards; a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; two Ingram-Merrill Foundation fellowships; the American Poetry Review's Jerome Shestack Award; and a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation grant.
Yau has also taught at the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Art, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley.
In recognition of his visionary contributions to the fields of poetry, literature and art criticism, Brooklyn College honors John Yau with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.