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Life as Scholars and Poets —The 18th book club event of the SYSU Center for English-language Creative Writing held

Last updated:2016-12-14

On December 7, 2016, the Center for English-language Creative Writing presented its 18th book club event—a conversation between the Dutch economist-writer Nachoem M. Wijinberg and the Chinese cosmologist-poet Li Miao, moderated by professor Dai Fan in FLS. The title of the talk “Life as Scholars and Poets” drew attention from a wide range of audience, who came from China, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Sri Lanka, Turkey, etc.
Prof. Li Miao, Prof. Nachoem M. Wijinberg and Prof. Dai Fan (left to right)

The conversation centered around how to live a double life in two seemingly incongruous worlds, i.e. the scientific and the literary. Wijinberg, who is an economist at University of Amsterdam, has published 15 collections of poems and 4 novels, while Li, a professor in cosmology at SYSU, has published a large number of poems and popular scientific books. Both of them emphasized the importance of poetry in their life, because of its form, which requires the writer’s exquisite consideration of words to express the most using the fewest words, and simply because of the pleasure of doing it.

When asked whether poetry writing enhances or hinders their scholastic work, Wijinberg said they went well together. He wrote poetry about topics that are different from his research field. He considers poetry to be a tool for knowledge, a way of thinking. “The writing will get you somewhere you’ve never been before, and tell you something new and different”, Wijinberg remarked. Li echoed with Wijinberg, saying that his scientific research and poetry enhanced each other. “If I spent hours doing scientific research, I could still write poetry afterwards … To me, writing poetry is a way of talking to myself, or talking to future readers. In writing poetry, I’m creating a new form of communication. ”

Wijinberg and Li read several of their poems respectively. Nachoem’s poems referred to ideas from Huang Tingjian, Su Dongpo and Tao Qian, ancient Chinese poets. It’s amazing to see a Dutch scientific scholar with such a deep understanding of Chinese literature. Li read some of his poems about different cities, such as Guangzhou, Paris, impressing the audience with the images he created.

Dai Fan said in the end, “This is the first time we have an audience that come from so many countries and such diverse backgrounds. Most of us use English as a foreign language. This makes the work of the SYSU Center of English-language Creative Writing important and necessary. It is also evident that literature is something we all need.”

Written by: Li Ling
Proofread by: Liang Jianxin
Edited by: Wang Dongmei