Friday, November 14, 2008

Whoa Three Weeks of Poetry!

i saw this in the margin of blogspot...clicked on the link. pretty wild.

BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A middle-aged primary school teacher reciting a 1,300-year-old poem could become China's answer to an American Idol-type superstar thanks to on-line voting in a government-sponsored competition.

The 40-year-old from the eastern Anhui Province, Fang Baojiu, was leading the field of 179 performers one week into the three-week poetry recital contest with more than 38,060 votes as of Friday evening.

All the contestants have submitted videos of their recitals to the Ministry of Education, which has organized the competition and posted the performances on the official website,

Since the videos were posted on Nov. 7, the website has attracted an average of 19,933 votes a day and with the daily record of 54,306, including 676 votes from Hong Kong.

"As a Chinese language teacher, I always lead the recital in my class. Maybe that's why I began falling in love with the art of poetry recital," says Fang, in his brief introduction on his video.
He can be seen sitting beside a scenic waterfall near his home at Huangshan while introducing himself. His performance is accompanied by traditional music and footage to match his recital of "Moon-lit River on a Spring Night" written by Zhang Ruoxu who lived circa 660 to 720AD.
Wang Dengfeng, the ministry official in charge of the contest, said the level of public response had been a surprise.

"It was out of my expectation that the on-line voting would draw such attention," Wang said. "We thought young people might have lost interest in classical Chinese literature."
On the website and forums of many colleges and schools, young people had debated the performances and posted supportive messages for their favorites.
"The contestants have become stars," Wang said.

So popular has the contest been that Internet technology firms approached the ministry to host the on-line voting, but the ministry wants to keep the contest non-profit, said Wang.
"To guarantee fair play, we try our best to supervise the voting and prevent any manipulation," he said.

The annual nationwide contest began last year and is intended to raise awareness of traditional literature. The on-line vote, the first of its kind in China, will last till Nov. 30 as part of the preliminary contest. The result of this stage is to be decided by both on-line voting and a panel of judges. The contestants were divided into five groups: students; teachers; students of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese; foreign students and non-students. Ten of each group will enter the final and six of each are supposed to win the prizes.

The ministry said they have not decided what the prizes would be but an award is to be granted.
"It is a great pleasure to see more and more young people find an interest in traditional Chinese culture," Wang said.
Editor: Jiang Yuxia

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau