A Conversation Between Poets
Posted 12/08/2017 10:35AM


On 1 December, Poet Xi Chuan met with Keystone Grade 11 student An Zhaoning for a conversation about poetry as a vehicle of self-expression across generations. This meeting between an accomplished poet and one who has just started to find his poetic voice was a rich, nurturing and lively encounter as Xi Chuan offered An and the Keystone community a glimpse into his path towards poetry and life as a poet during this season’s third Education Salon.

Defining moments in a nascent poet’s life can help ignite their poetic voice and launch writers into blossoming poets. Xi Chuan remembers finding his modern poetic voice as a student at Peking University. “Overwhelmed by melancholy at the sight of the university’s central Lake Weiming was my defining moment,” he explained. The day his poems were enthusiastically received at a poetry recital contest properly launched Xi Chuan into life as a poet as he currently knows it.

For An, the defining moment came the day he realized that his notes describing his impressions of the majestic magnolia blossoms outside of Keystone’s dining hall could very well constitute poetry. When prompted about how the creative power of an artist develops into an occupation, Xi Chuan offered that, “There is no hurry to make it your occupation. If you choose to be a poet, it will be a long road. You can take it slowly. You are still young and have time.

Yet, At times feeling misunderstood by his peers about the role poetry plays in his life, has evoked in An a sense of isolation, which has left him wonder, “if solitude is part of a poet’s life?” “In the maze of solitude it is full of people,” replied Xi Chuan.

When host and poet Sabrina Liu, Keystone Director of Marketing and Communications, inquired about the importance of present place and time in a poet’s oeuvre, Xi Chuan offered that, ”great artists are able to live in different times and worlds. They live in the present, but embed history and future into their perspectives.” Upon Ms. Liu’s probing whether poets can be characterized as brave, Xi Chuan responded that, "For an artist, his bravery surfaces through how she faces her destiny and failure."

Xi Chuan is a professor at the International Writing Center at Beijing Normal University, a poet, essayist and translator. He is one of the most influential poets in contemporary China and has spent over 20 years creating a vast collection of poetry and studying the role of poetry within various contexts.

Keystone’s Education Salons provide a space to engage with the best minds in education, literature and the arts that share their views on traditional and modern aspects of education. Discussions between our prominent guests and the community spark creativity and lively conversation around each topic. Keystone uses these salons to highlight contemporary themes in education and other disciplines, and as opportunities to discuss, rethink, and revision current practices in education.

Our next Salon with National Theater Company of China Director and Asian theater expert Meng Jinghui will take place at Keystone on 24 January, 6:30-8pm: The Power of the Stage. For more information about Salon topics and to receive an invitation to our events, please email

The Keystone Magazine

School Events

    • Saturday - April 21, 2018 Poetic Travelogue, A Convergence of Emotions, Thoughts and Words 3:00 PM to 5:30 PMBeijing Brillant Beauties Garden, Shuny
    • Tuesday - April 17, 2018 Cello Fantasia: A Spring Reverie To reserve tickets 6:00 AM to 7:30 AMPerforming Arts Center
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