Feature: UK festival remembers 20th-century famous Chinese poet Xu Zhimo

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LONDON, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — The Cambridge Xu Zhimo Festival of Poetry and Arts 2019 was held on Friday in King’s College, Cambridge with the participation of more than 100 poets, artists and scholars from China and Britain.

Commemorating renowned Chinese poet Xu Zhimo, who was an associate member of King’s College for 18 months in 1921-22, the theme of this year’s festival of poetry, art and music from China and the West is forests — wood, groves and individual trees.

Alan Macfarlane, emeritus professor of Anthropological Science and chair of the festival, said that forests are central to poetry, and the forest theme is particularly appropriate since Xu’s poems often refer to trees, and his commemorative stone at King’s is now backed by a yin-yang-themed Chinese garden.

Unveiled at last year’s festival, the garden contains many plants and trees from Xu’s hometown of Haining in Southeast China’s Zhejiang Province.

“China has always been known as one of the greatest reservoirs of trees and plants and China’s diversity is echoed along the Backs area in Cambridge, not only in Xu’s garden but in the stately trees which line the river Cam and the College gardens,” he said.

British Poet Richard Berengarten told Xinhua that the reputation of Xu in China, particularly his great poems, has influenced many Chinese people to visit Cambridge and many Chinese students to study here.

“We have a very large number of Chinese students in the university, and the poetry festival takes this place in that local context of the popularity of Cambridge,” he said.

Tim Brown, well-known British conductor and former music director of Claire College, Cambridge, composed music for Chinese ancient poet Li Bai’s poem “Hearing a Jade Flute On a Spring Night in Luoyang”. The music was premiered during the festival by the British Voice Choir at this festival. The audience was deeply touched by its moving melody and excellent singing.

Apart from poetry readings, art forums and choral performances, throughout August, the organizers also host a number of themed art exhibitions for artists from the UK and China at the King’s College Art Center, King’s College Cathedral and other venues

Among the exhibitions, “The Power of Practice — The exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Prints” is the only prints exhibition focusing on Contemporary China. The print works exhibited here are diverse in terms of materials, linguistic paradigm and genre of art, with the aim to show the vitality of contemporary prints of Chinese artists.

Founded in 2015, the Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival has been hosted every year since then.

The festival brings together some of the world’s most famous poets and artists at King’s College and offers a unique opportunity for poets, artists, and scholars from Britain and China to congregate and share ideas and experiences.

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