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A Rare Gathering of Prominent and Outspoken Chinese Poets at Simmons College

BOSTON (September 22, 2004) — In an unprecedented gathering, nearly 40 of the most prominent Chinese poets, critics, and scholars will come together at Simmons College for a three-day conference to present their work, and discuss views on the wildly popular art-form as well as their rapidly transforming communist nation, Oct. 8 to Oct. 10.

Hosted by the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center at Simmons College, the event is among the first of its kind to feature poets from China, Taiwan, and the US. The conference is free and open to the public.

"The goal of the conference is to bring together a group of the most active and vocal Chinese poets, critics, and scholars for three days to showcase their work," said Conference Director Afaa Michael Weaver. "They will present various perspectives on relevant topics, including anxiety over issues of modernity and the exploration of open expression, which was once frowned upon as a selfish act."

Weaver, who was perhaps the first African-American poet to teach American Literature in Taiwan, said the multilingual conference will focus on the traditional and modern forms of Chinese poetry. The event, which is sponsored by the Freedom Foundation and the Lowell Lecture Fund, will also feature musical performances and panel discussions.

"To this day, Chinese people still take pride in their glorious heritage of classical poetry and refer to China as a ‘nation of poets," said Dr. Michelle Yeh, a poet and conference participant.

Among the guests scheduled to appear are Yeh, Zheng Chouyu, Yu-Kwang-chung, Wang Ping, Marilyn Chin, Arthur Sze, Frank Stewart, N.G.D. Malmqvist, Yu Hsi, Xue Di, Perng Ching-hsi, Meng Lang, Yu Jian, Shinyu Pai, and Yu Kwang Chung.

Weaver, a Fulbright scholar, said he hopes the conference will help foster a greater awareness of classical and modern Chinese poetry to American audiences, and provide an opportunity to build a local community around Chinese poetry at Simmons.

Support also comes form Cultural Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston and the Chinese Cultural Connection of Malden.

The Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center is committed to diversity in literature and art in the service of humanity. The Chinese Culture Connection, which is headed by Mei Hung as Executive Director, is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting Chinese culture.

For more information, contact Afaa Michael Weaver, Director of the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center at 617-521-2175 or afaamichael.weaver@simmons.edu. Web site: http://www.chinesepoetryconference.com/.

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