Downtown Flushing, Queens, is home to the second largest Chinatown in New York City, and often dubbed as heaven for regional Chinese specialties including Henanese pot stickers, fiery Sichuan chicken, Xinjiang lamb kebabs and fresh tofu.
2018 Flushing Chinese Poetry Festival, however, heightens the literary appeal of the thriving neighborhood whose Chinese-immigrant population has long surpassed that of the old school Chinatown in Manhattan.
The festival, held on April 14 in the Flushing Library of Queens Library, was the first Chinese American poets gathering to celebrating National Poetry Month ever in the United States.
"The event gathered poets from all over the North America. Flushing has established its reputation being poetic, beyond delicious food and rich selections of fresh greens," Paul Qiu, Assistant Manager of Flushing Library, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The festival welcomed over three hundred Chinese poets from Canada and more than dozens of states across America took part in the event, said Qiu, executive director of the Organizing Committee of Flushing Poetry Festival who himself is a poet and writer,
The morning session of the event was a panel discussion with 10 panelist, led by Yan Li, renowned poet, writer and artist whose literary career began from late 70s and early 80s, and Wang Yu (Halen Hsia) who is famous poet, writer and editor for several decades, both of them enjoy high reputation in China and overseas.
The panelists focused on different styles of modern poetry writing and its relations with Chinese classical poetry tradition and the Western poetry influence. Also discussed was overseas Chinese writing and its role to be part of local community and involvement of a civilized society. They had interesting exchanges with the audiences.
Twelve of over 500 poems from about 200 poets won the first, second and third prizes during the festival. Except two winners are New Yorkers, other poets are from Canada and other states who flew to Flushing to receive their awards.
Bi An Liu Nian, one of authors of the poetry collection book published by the festival committee, flew to New York City from California with her 12 years old son to attend the whole day event. She taught her son Chinese at home and wished that her son can be inspired by the event, keep studying Chinese, loving poems and writing. They had to fly back home in that evening in order to catch up the boy's hockey tryout the next day.
Retired professor Bi Liaoran is 89 years old and probably most senior participant of the Festival. He devoted much of his retired life to writing and won quite a few awards. The senior man told his daughter that he sent his poem to the festival that surprised his daughter and daughter-in-law, both of them actually already emailed their poems too. All three of the family are happily to see their poems were printed in same collection after all.
The youngest award winner is Jia Longmai, a 8th grade high school student. Encouraged by his teacher Xili Li, a teacher from Dr. Sun Yat Sen Middle School, which is located at New York Chinatown, he sent his poem with several of his classmates. It turned out Mai and Li both won the third place award that immediately became a big news in the school. Mai's prize-winning poetry revealed the possible two opposite sides of maternal love, which could be giving, caring and warm, but also could be with pressure, parental control and feeling hurt at the same time.
"The talents, history and culture at the Chinese American community have contributed greatly to America life and the development of our city. I commend the Organizing Committee for Flushing Poetry Festival for organizing the grand event and the efforts being made to establish Flushing as a vital cultural Hub for Chinese Americans in North America and abroad," said New York City public advocate Letitia James, congratulating the success of the festival.
The event showcases the diverse and dynamic selections of Chinese contemporary poetry while enjoying the works of renowned and talented poets," commented New York State Senator Toby Stavisky.