The power of po­ems

Bri­tish Coun­cil launches new ‘Po­etry on the Metro’ cam­paign in Shang­hai

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Qi Xi­jia

Bri­tish Coun­cil, the UK’s in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion for cul­tural re­la­tions and ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, re­cently launched “Po­etry on the Metro” in Shang­hai, a new na­tion­wide cam­paign aim­ing make com­mut­ing more stim­u­lat­ing and in­spir­ing.

By show­cas­ing 40 ex­am­ples of clas­si­cal and con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish and Chi­nese po­etry on sub­way spa­ces in five cities in China – Shang­hai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Nan­jing – the cam­paign hopes to raise aware­ness of po­etry among the masses while also show­cas­ing emerg­ing young poets from both coun­tries.

This is the Bri­tish Coun­cil’s lat­est lit­er­ary cam­paign, fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful “Po­ems on the Un­der­ground” cam­paign in the UK and last year’s “Shake­speare on the Metro” cam­paign in Shang­hai. The lat­ter cam­paign en­gaged 3 mil­lion com­muters in Shang­hai with Shake­speare’s most fa­mous quotes.

Matthew Knowles, area di­rec­tor of East China of Bri­tish Coun­cil and Con­sul (Cul­tural and Ed­u­ca­tion) of Bri­tish Con­sulate Gen­eral in Shang­hai, said this year’s cam­paign is “big­ger” and “more am­bi­tious.”

There are clas­sic works in­clud­ing Wil­liam Shake­speare’s From You Have I Been Ab­sent in the Spring, Percy Shel­ley’s Love’s Rose, Al­fred Lord Ten­nyson’s Ulysses, Li Bai’s Life’s Jour­ney is Hard, Du Fu’s De­light­ing in Rain on a Spring Night as well as po­ems writ­ten by emerg­ing young poets born after the 1980s.

All the works will be pre­sented bilin­gually, trans­lated by Shang­hai Trans­la­tion As­so­ci­a­tion.

Spirit of youth

Jin Chengzhi, di­rec­tor and con­duc­tor of Shang­hai Rain­bow Cham­ber Singers, fa­mously known for their “over­time dog” choir song, is tak­ing an ac­tive part in the new cam­paign, as his work Even­tide is fea­tured among the 40 po­ems. Dur­ing the launch cer­e­mony, Jin and Knowles gave a read­ing of this poem, which tells a story about a fam­ily of three and their small dog es­cap­ing the world to a small is­land.

“For me po­etry is the best com­fort at night. It gives me great com­fort when I am in most lone­li­ness and help­less,” said Jin.

All 40 po­ems will be printed out and posted on metro car­riages. A po­etry wall at Nan­jing Road West metro sta­tion will also dis­play the po­ems.

“Po­etry on the Metro” is part of a larger theme called “Spirit of Youth,” a China-wide cam­paign aim­ing to in­spire next-gen­er­a­tion lead­ers in China and the UK and pro­mote deeper peo­plepeo­ple col­lab­o­ra­tion and cul­tural ex­change.

“Youth is the spring­time of spirit. It’s an age of dis­cov­ery, it’s an age of emerg­ing iden­tity and an age of po­etry,” Knowles said. “I won­der how the po­ems from our two coun­tries will com­pare when we put them side by side. I hope it al­lows us in­sight into the minds and hearts of the emerg­ing gen­er­a­tion.”

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of Bri­tish Coun­cil

(From top) Or­ga­niz­ers and poets at the launch cer­e­mony for the event Tues­day; Lin Xiaoy­ing from SPAFFC reads a poem; At­ten­dees at the sub­way; Matthew Knowles and Jin Chengzhi give a read­ing at the event.

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