Across China: Emerging platforms, technologies breathe new life into ancient poetry
By Xinhua writer Zhang Zhongkai
BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Learning about ancient poems can be a fun experience, just as a 62-year-old man can be an online celebrity.
Dai Jianye, a literature professor with Central China Normal University, unexpectedly gained Internet fame when clips of his accented, humorous and insightful interpretations of ancient poems went viral on a popular short-video platform, drawing nearly 2 million fans.
"The Chinese are wise and the language is beautiful. Ancient poetry combines both and should be studied and shared," Dai said.
The popularity of Dai's lectures is just part of the latest frenzy for ancient poems, as new technologies, platforms and programs help burnish these literary works.
Several Chinese TV shows have made ancient poetry lovers and masters become stars, such as the hit show "Chinese Poetry Conference" launched in 2016, which was recently won by a poetry-loving fast food courier.
Tech giant Tencent has included poetry features in its gaming and developed a specific puzzle game, while artificial intelligence pioneer Baidu has designed a special program to create poetry based on big data analysis of thousands of ancient poems.
"Technology and culture can go hand in hand, and the former can help connect the latter with the modern world in a smart and subtle way," said Wang Xiaobing, director of Tencent Research.
The institute just organized a cultural forum inviting senior poetry researchers to share their perspectives on poetry's relevance in the digital world. "The conference hall was surprisingly fully-packed. I didn't expect that there to be so many people who still find that ancient poems resonate with them," Wang said.
An online survey of about 100,000 respondents released last year showed that ancient poetry was the most popular traditional cultural area among the post-90s generation of netizens.
"Ancient poems, despite being written long time ago, have lasting inspiration and healing power for Chinese," said Xue Tianwei, former director of a research institute on famous Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai, whose classic line "All things in their being are good for something" is one of Xue's favorites.
Poetry has remained a popular literary form in China for many centuries and is taught in classes. Ancient poetry is concise and usually rhymes, with characters, phrases and sentences placing a thought, image or emotion.
Since his overnight fame, Dai's previous books on poetry and other Chinese classical literature have become best sellers.
"New platforms and technologies mainly serve as catalysts that can leverage cultural promotion," Dai said. "I hope young people's interest in ancient poems can go beyond their smartphone displays."