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March 5, 2009

Solitude: Chinese Poetry in Performance at Smith

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present a performance of classical Chinese poetry recited and chanted by Sujane Wu, with English translations, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in the Poetry Center, Wright Hall. Wu will present poems that treat the theme and circumstance of solitude from a range of dynasties and styles, with remarks on musical interpretation as well as on multiple translations. This event is free and open to the public.

For centuries, Chinese people have entrusted their most profound and heartfelt utterances to poetry, the form that has come to be recognized as characteristic of the Chinese literary spirit at its greatest. Rather than simply being read aloud, poems in ancient China were sung or chanted, though few scores are extant and little is known about how they were presented. One of Wu’s primary scholarly interests has been to reconstruct them in musical performance, which she has come to see as necessary to a full appreciation of the works themselves as well as the people who wrote and who listened to them.

For more than two decades, Wu has been studying, performing and writing extensively on classical Chinese poetry. A contributor to the volume Ancient Chinese Writers: The Pre-Tang (The Dictionary of Literary Biography), author of scores of scholarly articles and reviews, as well as a work-in-progress, “Exchange of Heart: Poetic Correspondence and Self-Expression in Early Medieval China,” she has presented lectures and given musical performances of Chinese poetry around the United States and abroad.

Wu has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D, as well as at Beloit College, Swarthmore and Smith, where she is currently assistant professor of East Asian languages and literatures. Among her honors are Jean Picker and Kahn Institute fellowships at Smith, as well as an award in Traditional Chinese Poetry Composition (Taipei, Taiwan).

Wu’s talk is sponsored by the Smith College Poetry Center and the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.

For further information, call Michaela Cahillane in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.

For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail

Office of College Relations
Smith College
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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
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