Across China: Defeating poverty through poetry

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-26 19:49:29|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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SHIJIAZHUANG, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Almost all of the 760 residents of a remote mountain village in north China can recite and write poetry, from four-year-old children to nonagenarians.

"We are farmers with hoes in our hands and poets with pens," said 55-year-old resident Liu Fujun, in Shishangzhuang Village, in the city of Chengde, Hebei Province.

According to Liu, who is also president of the city's writers association, poetry is part of people's life in Shishangzhuang.

"In the forest, beside the brook, under the roof and in the field, we read, recite and write poems everywhere," he said.

Liu said there was a 71-year-old villager who wrote more than 700 poems in three years, using up nearly 300 gel pens in the process.

Shishangzhuang, a remote mountain village more than 70 km away from the county seat, has cultivated three members of the China Writers Association, publishing nearly 100 poetry collections.

Two international poetry forums have been held here, attended by hundreds of poets from more than 10 countries and regions.

Some foreign poets stayed on for a few more days after the forums to discuss their works with the villagers, and some even transcribed all of the poetic lines on stone tablets in the village, Liu said.

"Poetry has changed our lives both spiritually and materially," said resident Li Haiping.

Attracted by the tranquility and the poetic atmosphere, an increasing number of visitors swarm into Shishangzhuang, bringing fortune and revitalizing the poverty-stricken village.

Li has rebuilt her house into a 12-room homestay, "where guests can see the mountains after pushing open the doors and hear the sound of water when opening the windows."

"The rooms are fully booked every day, with the turnover totaling 80,000 yuan (about 11,300 U.S. dollars) in just July and August," she said.

So far, there are 27 homestays in Shishangzhuang, providing jobs to nearly 200 people.

According to Liu Fuqiang, a senior official with the village, the net annual income per capita reached 6,000 yuan last year, three times that of 2012.

In the past two years, the prosperous development of the small village has driven more than 30 young people who made a living outside Shishangzhuang to return home to work, with many starting up businesses.

"In the future, we will develop a cultural industry centered on poetry and promote co-development with more surrounding villages," Liu said.