John Balcom
McCone Building M117
(802) 443-5286

Professor Balcom began studying Chinese several decades ago in a summer intensive language course at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He has lived and worked in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and joined the MIIS T&I faculty in 1993. As a translator he has worked in-house and as a freelancer. Balcom is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association and co-chaired the first Salzburg Global Seminar on literary translation. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an NEA Translation Fellowship, his translations have won or been nominated for many awards: his Taiwan’s Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Poems, and Essays and There’s Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night by Cao Naiqian both won Northern California Book Awards; his translation of Huang Fan’s Zero won the Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Award; and his translation of Ya Hsien’s Abyss was a finalist for the PEN Poetry in Translation Award and a Northern California Book Award.

Areas of Interest

The translation of literary and philosophical texts; modern and contemporary Chinese poetry and fiction; Modernism and the international avant-garde; Taiwan studies; comparative literature studies; translation studies.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D. in Chinese and Comparative Literature, Washington University, St. Louis
  • M.A. in Chinese, San Francisco State University
  • B.A. in Chinese, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • B.A in History, California State University, Fullerton

Professor Balcom has been teaching at the Institute since 1993.


  • Frontier Taiwan: An Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry (contributor)
  • Wintry Night by Li Qiao (co-translator)
  • The City Trilogy by Chang His-kuo
  • Taiwan’s Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, and Poems
    (Winner of the 2006 Northern California Book Award) 
  • Driftwood (A book-length poem by Lo Fu)
  • An anthology of Buddhist literature (pre-Han to the present)
  • “Translating Modern Chinese Literature” chapter of The Translator as Writer, edited by Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush

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