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A Celebration of Welsh and Chinese literature

Welsh and Chinese authors, poets, translators, academics and publishers came together at Bangor University recently to celebrate a sharing of literature between the two countries, in an event organised by Yan Ying of Bangor University’s School of Modern Languages and Sioned Puw Rowlands of the Wales Literature Exchange.

The symposium celebrated the release of a special issue of Foreign Literature and Art from Shanghai Translation Publishing House, focusing on contemporary Welsh literature in translation. This publication represents the first move in introducing contemporary Welsh literature to the Chinese readership. The day drew to a close with an evening of live poetry and music.

The events provided a novel opportunity to discuss how to develop the literature exchange between the two cultures, with speakers including Mr WU Hong, Vice Editor-in-Chief of the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, and Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, on behalf of Wales Literature Exchange and Aberystwyth University.

Professor Jerry Hunter, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor in Bangor University’s School of Welsh, said: “This fantastic event has set an important precedent and has helped create a partnership which will surely bear fruit in the future.  Wales punches above its weight when it comes to literature; it is a small nation with an extremely rich literary tradition, and it will be exciting to see how Welsh literature is received by readers in China. In addition, we look forward to a real two-way literary exchange, bringing Chinese authors to the attention of Welsh readers just as Welsh writers are introduced to a Chinese readership.”

Yan Ying a lecturer in Translation Studies at the School of Modern Languages and Co-Director of the newly founded Centre for East Asian Studies at Bangor University said:

“This event celebrated the positive steps taken so far to raise awareness and interest in each other’s literature, and was able to build on the work, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bangor University, Shanghai Translation Publishing House and Wales Literature Exchange, which builds the framework of collaboration between the three institutions. This step should lead to more publications sharing the literature of each country in the future.”

Topics included discussions on world literature in China and Wales; the boundaries of Welsh literature; and poetry writing in China; and the afternoon ended with a round- table discussion to address some of the challenges and opportunities presented by a literature exchange between the two countries.

Contributors, Angharad Price, from Bangor University’s School of Welsh and author, Francesca Rhydderch, shared their experiences of translating and having their work translated into Chinese, and Hu DONG, one of most individual figures in contemporary Chinese writing, contributed his thoughts from the perspective of a Chinese in exile.

The day ended with poetry readings in Chinese, Welsh and English, respectively from HU Dong U Jason Walford Davies and Zoë Skoulding, as well as performances of traditional Welsh and Chinese music. Attended by Ms SUN Yan (First Secretary of Cultural Office, Embassy of the  People’s Republic of China in the UK) the evening event also provided an opportunity to mark the launch of Bangor University’s new Centre for East Asian Studies, which aims to be a focus for East Asian Cultural academic research in Wales.

Publication date: 16 May 2014