Liu Yazi has been called 'Last outstanding poet of the traditional school of poetry'. True he was a classicist, but his interests were in revolutionary change and he was a heroic figure in this regard.|
A native of Wujiang near Sozhou, Jiangsu, he was from his youth influenced by the revolutionary movement led by Sun Yatsen. He was an active member of the Guomindang until Chiang Kaishek turned on the leftists in 1927. At that time he was in Wuhan and was hunted by Chiang's troops but hid in a wall of his home and thereafter escaped to Shanghai and went into exile in Japan, as many other revolutionaries did.
He returned to Shanghai and from 1932 to 1937 he was director of the Shanghai Gazetteer Bureau. He used poetry to express his belief in revolutionary causes and was one of the founders of the 南社 Nan She, Southern Society of writers with membership of several hundred writers.
He made friends with revolutionaries who later became prominent in the Nationalist government. Later, in Chongqing (Chungking), he made friends with many communist leaders. He launched Mao Zhedong as a poet by publishing his first poem in 1945 in Chongqing.