Wed, Apr 16, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Houses preserved for poetry, posterity

‘FORTRESS’ FOR ART:A Taichung industrialist teamed up with the Museum of Taiwan Literature and Ministry of Culture to create a national poetry center in Taipei

Staff writer, with CNA

Two old Japanese-made houses in central Taipei have been restored and given new life as a national center for poetry set to open in July.

The Ministry of Culture unveiled the “poetry house” at the intersection of Jinan Road and Taian Street yesterday, where it also announced a three-year program aimed at invigorating the development of poetry in Taiwan.

Renovated from a former dormitory for Japanese officials during the Japanese colonial period in the first half of the 20th century, the one-story wood buildings with tiled roofs stand out on a street otherwise dominated by crowded concrete constructions.

However, despite the homey feel, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said the center for exhibitions, recitals and camp activities will be a “fortress” of poetry to show “Taiwan’s true cultural power.”

“If you only learn about Taiwan from what’s shown on TV, you’ll think it’s a chaotic place,” she said.However, within the capital, “there are also quiet places like this.”

Also announced yesterday was a NT$50 million (US$1.65 million) program to encourage the nation’s development of poetry.

The three-year program is to sponsor an annual poetry festival and translations of works both into and from Chinese, Lung said.

It also is to grant a yearly award and select up to four poets each year for an overseas stay of up to three months as “cultural ambassadors,” the ministry said.

The program has been funded by Scott Ouyoung (歐陽明), founder of Taichung-based Globe Union Industrial Corp, one of the world’s largest suppliers of plumbing products.

A poetry lover since childhood, Ouyoung said he has relied on poems to relieve stress and gain the strength to handle his schedule, adding that he is grateful to be able to make a contribution to the art form.

The poetry house, which does not yet have an English name, is to open in July with an exhibition on manuscripts by local poets and be managed by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature.

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