'Poetry on the Metro' inspires spirit of youth

By Yin Xiuqi China Plus Published: 2017-09-30 14:32:45
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A poster depicting a bilingual version of‘Song of Hard Journey’by Li Bai, probably the most celebrated poet in ancient China. [Photo: provided by the British Council]

A poster depicting a bilingual version of ‘Song of Hard Journey’ by Li Bai, probably the most celebrated poet in ancient China. [Photo: courtesy of the British Council]

For many people living in mega cities in China, the daily commute on public transport, especially the often packed metro system, may be a boring and tiring experience. 

Need refreshment and something to enliven the tedious journey on the underground trains? Then how about poems?  

Yes, commuters in Shanghai and Guangzhou may find some of their metro lines and tram cars decorated with beautiful bilingual poetry placards—whether being on the walls, doors, seats or even handles. 

This is thanks to an ongoing cultural event called ‘Poetry on the Metro,’ sponsored by the British Council in five Chinese cities. 

The event is bringing altogether 40 poems by both British and Chinese celebrated classic and creative contemporary poets, such as Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, as well as Li Bai and Du Fu. 

Commuters can get a glimpse of the 40 poems depicted in small posters on the doors of the metro train. [Photo: provided by the British Council]

Commuters can get a glimpse of the 40 poems depicted in small posters on the doors of the metro train. [Photo: courtesy of the British Council]

Nick Marchand, the agency's Director of Arts and Culture for China and Northeast Asia, says the poetry activities aim to inspire a ‘spirit of youth’ and contribute to deeper Sino-British cultural exchanges and mutual understanding. 

In an exclusive interview with Horizons’ Yin Xiuqi, he explains that the ‘spirit of youth’ is really a sense of playfulness, knowledge and fun that the activities are bringing to daily commuters on the metro systems across China. 

[You can listen to the whole conversation by clicking the audio file at the top.]

A bilingual version of‘Things I Wish I Told My Mother’by contemporary British poet Bridget Minamore. [Photo: provided by the British Council]

A bilingual version of ‘Things I Wish I Told My Mother’ by contemporary British poet Bridget Minamore. [Photo: courtesy of the British Council]

In addition to Shanghai and Guangzhou, organizers say the event will expand to Chengdu, Chongqing and Nanjing within this year. 

Besides the offline activities, anyone interested in poetry can access all the 40 poems online through the official Wechat and Weibo accounts of the British Council. 

[Horizons is a revamped daily features program produced by CRI that gets to the heart of Chinese society, life and economy. To know more about this program, you can download the China Plus App on your mobile phone.]

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