STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival

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Added On August 12, 2019

The festival is held each year in commemoration of the Chinese poet Xu Zhimo, who was an associate member of King's College from 1921 to 1922.
 
The festival's theme this year was forests - wood, groves and individual trees.
 
Emeritus professor of Anthropological Science and festival chair Alan Macfarlane said forests are a recurring theme in Xu's poems.
 
ALAN MACFARLANE, President of Xu Zhimo Festival:
 
"Well, this is the fifth of our Xu Zhimo festival and each year we take a different theme. Last year we took bridges, which was about the connection between China and the West, and Xu Zhimo’s poem about the bridge and King’s. Forests are something which for many reasons are important both to poets and to civilizations. China is reforesting much of its lands, the moment has about 16% or so of its land is forest but it lost a great deal of forest. And it’s a discussion just going on in the world now that if we could bring back our forests, we could deal with climate change so it's an ecological problem, a political problem, and also very central to poetry. Because trees are very beautiful, and they have their life, their own. So it seems a very good theme, and also connected to Xu Zhimo because in his poem of“Saying Good-Bye to Cambridge” he mentions so far in the trees the willow tree on the other trees above the stream. So it's central to his poetry as well."
 
British Poet Richard Berengarten said it is interesting to see more and more Chinese people, evidently inspired by Xu, visiting and studying at Cambridge.
 
RICHARD BERENGARTEN, British Poet:
 
"I am one of the founders of this festival, it began five years ago, and the instigation of King's College Cambridge because the great Chinese poet Xu Zhimo had studied here. And they contacted when he was here with some leading English artists and poets. And the organizers of this college with colleagues from China, from the hometown of Xu Zhimo, decided it will be a wonderful thing to start off a poetry festival in his name in honor of Xu Zhimo, which brings together Chinese and English poets and sometimes other nationalities. So this is a relatively small intimate event bringing together Chinese and English poets."
 
Apart from poetry sessions, the festival also features exhibitions, forums and choral performances throughout the month.
 
The annual Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival was founded in 2015. 
 
Since then, it has grown to become what many people consider to be one of the most important cultural exchange events between China and the UK, which routinely brings together some of the world's most famous poets and artists.