Newman Prize for English Jueju competition – Winners announced!

You may remember at the start of the year us telling you about the Newman Prize for English Jueju competition from the University of Oklahoma that we were collaborating with, to enable UK students to enter for the first time- well, what a successful first year!

Thank you to everyone who submitted their poems. There was a lot of interest this year with over 200 submissions received from the UK and with UK students contributing the largest number of the more complex 近体诗 version which was very impressive.

This year’s UK winner is Sofia Saronne from St Paul’s Girls School with the poem ‘Rebirth’.

Dr Jonathan Stalling, who delivered a teach-in session with our CI in the Autumn term, had this to say about her entry:

Sofia’s recitation of her poem is so incredibly beautiful. Her recitation follows the ping/ze tones perfectly which really brought out the underlying beauty of 近体诗. It is an auspicious beginning for the first UK English Jueju award!

The Chinese novelist Yan Lianke was the winner of the main prize for Chinese literature, so he also saw and heard Sofia’s beautiful recitation! Sofia received a $500 cheque and commemorative certificate.

You can watch the video of the Jueju awards ceremony here. and hear the students recite their works emphasizing the alternation of ping/ze vowels, or you can read the winning poems here with a brief analysis from Dr Jonathan Stalling to help readers better understand the kinds of formal constraints the students are working under.

Sofia was supported by the Mandarin teachers at St Paul’s Girls School, who attended the initial teacher training event hosted by UCL IOE CI in the Autumn Term, and then participating in the more in-depth sessions provided by Dr Stalling in the Spring term. Here’s what teacher Holly Shao said about those sessions:

Although there are many resources and videos on CI IOE website, in order to understand more about Ping-Ze (ying-yang) patterns and the key spirit and philosophy behind the Jueju, I decided to take the opportunity and join the extended teacher training sessions in Feb. Each week we focused on different aspects. We decoded Ping-Ze patterns by using the “Go” board with black and white stones which are more visualised for students, and Professor Stalling’s students shared their works and discussed the processes of writing the poem. The last week we tried to chant the English Jueju in tones and it was fantastic experience which made me felt I travelled back to the ancient time.  Each week was such a joy to participate and ask questions. I can’t thank Professor Stalling enough for such a wonderful experience and I’ll certainly pass what I have learnt to our students and highly recommend other teachers to take part in the competition and join the training sessions if there are more opportunities.

Dr Stalling also noted that there were significant and impressive entries from St Alban’s School, Christ College Finchley, Colyton Grammar School and Grey Court School – so a big thank you to those schools as well, and to all schools who submitted entries. Honourable mention for teacher submissions in the UK goes to Jian Ling Shen from St.  Albans School.

The winners were honoured in a virtual ceremony on Friday, March 19, in tandem with the celebration of the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, awarded this year to Chinese novelist Yan Lianke which can be watched here.

We hope that this year’s competition provided classes with a fun and engaging way to learn more about traditional Chinese poetry culture and that even more teachers and students will take part in future events- we and Professor Stalling are looking forward to it.