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December 16, 2009

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Poetic snapshots combine words and photographic images

A picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, an original Chinese poem composed by high school students bout city life.

They are budding poetrographers who produce poemographs and recently took part in a contest combining photos and poems in Chinese calligraphy.

The poems' calligraphy, its shapes and meanings, amplify a photograph, which also amplifies the poems. Traditional Chinese painting frequently was combined with poetry.

The competition theme: living in cities and the sense of belonging. Poetry is superimposed on the photos of architecture and urban scenes, creating another dimension of seeing and feeling.

Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong student winners in a poemography competition were recently announced at Pei Mansion Hotel in Jing'an District.

"We encourage students to break the boundaries of art media to explore, experience and express their observations about their city and their sense of belonging," says Alvin Kong, Swire Properties general manager for Shanghai and eastern China at the awards ceremony. The six-month competition was an art and education project, "Art Talents Pop Up! Poemography Exp," sponsored by the Swire Organization for Youth Arts (SOYA).

More than 200 students from around 50 high schools used their cameras and pens to observe and express their feelings about urban life.

The first prize was awarded to the work "Yi" ("Memory") created by Gu Yanliang and Huang Xiaoling from Shanghai No. 1 Middle School.

The two girls together wrote the poem that merges confused dreams and reality and looks to the future. The photograph is a night scene in Zhujiajiao watertown in Qingpu District. The images of old buildings are reflected in the canal, creating a mirror-like double image.

"The light reflected in the water is so attractive but it also confuses us. It's hard to tell reality from imagination, just as we sometimes feel in life," says Gu who likes reading poetry, writing poems and taking pictures.

"The activity gave us a good opportunity to express are feelings about life," says Huang.

Students attended workshops and discussions with professional photographers, poets, scholars and artists. Top poemographers are taking part in cultural exchanges among Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

"Poemography" is the first art and education program launched by SOYA in the three cities.

"We hope that by participating, students in different cities can interact with each other," says Kong.


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