Brian Holton was born in Galashiels in the Scottish Border country but grew up partly in Nigeria. He was the son of an Irish father who was bilingual in English and French, fluent in Hausa and West African Pidgin and competent in Yoruba. After being educated in Greek, French and Latin, he studied Chinese at the universities of Edinburgh and Durham and was the first Programme Director of the Chinese-English / English-Chinese translation programme at Newcastle University. He taught translation for ten years at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and in 1992 he began a continuing working relationship with the poet Yang Lian, which has so far resulted in a dozen books of translated poetry, including Where the Sea Stands Still (Bloodaxe Books, 1999), a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation, Concentric Circles (with Agnes Hung-Chong Chan) (Bloodaxe Books, 2005), Lee Valley Poems (with Agnes Hung-Chong Chan and seven poets) (Bloodaxe Books, 2009), Narrative Poem (Bloodaxe Books, 2017), Anniversary Snow (Shearsman Books, 2019) and A Tower Built Downwards (Bloodaxe Books, due 2023). He is the lead translator and associate editor of Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Bloodaxe Books, 2012). He also translates into Scots and is the only currently-publishing Chinese-Scots translator in the world. His latest Chinese-Scots translations are Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai and Du Fu in Scots (Taproot Press, 2022) and Aa Cled Wi Clouds She Cam: Saxty Sang Lyrics (Irish Pages, 2022).