The Chinese Poetry Recitation Competition, organized by the Chinese Language Program of Harvard’s Department of East Languages and Civilizations (EALC), began last Friday (11/9) at 3:30 when two student MCs, donning East Asian Studies t-shirts, performed a brief comedic skit and then instructed the audience to turn off its cellphones in Chinese. The event’s brochure promised the audience a chance to “explore the Chinese literary heritage” and this promise was certainly delivered, with a little bit of humor and a lot of dramatic flair.

Dozens of members of the Harvard community flocked to the Yenching Auditorium at 2 Divinity Ave. to listen to students declaim poems and songs in Chinese, usually accompanied by glossy PowerPoint presentations with English translations and traditional music. The competition’s three judges, Jennifer Liu, Emily Huang, and David Wang, all EALC faculty, could be seen throughout the competition nodding with approval, as the 37 participants masterfully worked their way through such verses as “Regret for Peony Flowers” by Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi and Meng Haoran’s classic “Spring Dawn.”

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