Appreciating Poetry with the Community: Two Community Outreach Events through Classical Chinese Poetry

With its long-lasting tradition and aesthetic power, classical Chinese poetry has been appealing to numerous people for thousands of years. The UBC Chinese Language Program (CLP) not only offers a wide range of courses on the poetic corpuses, but also extends its reach to wider learning communities through the literary resonance of classical Chinese poems. Last term, Dr. Xueshun Liu of the CLP organized a series of curated lectures and events with his students to promote classical Chinese poetry to those interested in poetic cultures from such communities as University Neighborhoods Association. The lectures and events were designed with community outreach and accessibility in mind, aiming to help a wider audience deepen their understanding of classical Chinese classical poetry. At the same time, the lectures also provided an ideal platform for undergraduate students to hone in on their skills in public presentation and community engagement.

The public lectures played an important role in showing community members how to appreciate classical Chinese poetry in an imaginative and multifaceted way. Mentored by Dr. Liu, Elina Xu and Xuan Gu hosted the first lecture titled “How Many Hamlets Are There in One Poem” back in October to demonstrate the possibility and richness of multiperspectival appreciation of a few poems. Continuing Elina and Xuan’s efforts, Dr. Liu, Yuanfei Shang, and Lumos Zhan gave a second lecture last December on how to analyze the rich connotations of allusions in classical Chinese poetry with the guiding question: “Can different poets use the same allusion in different poems to express different feelings?” Both lectures succeeded in teasing out the nuanced meanings of classical Chinese poetry and widening the community audience’s understanding of the analyzed poems.

Multiple meanings behind a single character in a classical Chinese poem

Different poets’ varied uses of the same allusion