A delegation led by Dave Bromwich (National President), including vice-presidents Dave Adamson and George Andrews, Vivienne Holmes and Colin Child from Dunedin Branch, Jane Hole from Christchurch Branch and Karren Beanland (Director of the Michael King Writers Centre, Auckland), in September, 2013, spent a successful six days furthering NZCFS cultural links in Shanghai.
On the first full day they visited the offices of the Shanghai Spring International Music festival and later the Shanghai Writers’ Association.
The association is located in an elegant and substantial historic house in Julu Road in the old French concession district. It has a magnificent garden and spacious wood-panelled rooms. The association has 1350 members, many of whom are prominent writers, including a number of foreign writers. The house itself is a base for the association’s publishing activities. About 20 editors work there, on five literary magazines that it publishes. The association has also published a number of books in English, with the works of some of its members.
The delegation met two leaders of the Association, both prominent writers in their own right: Mr Sun Yong, the vice chairman, and Mr Sun Ganlu, the vice general secretary.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the planned writers exchange between the Shanghai Writers Association, the Shanghai Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the NZ China Friendship Society and the Michael King Writers’ Centre, Auckland. A memorandum of intent had been drafted before the meeting. George Andrews gave a presentation on behalf of the NZCFS and Karren Beanland explained about the Michael King writers’ centre, and how the first Rewi Alley Fellowship worked this year, with Huo Yan, from Beijing, having spent two months in New Zealand.
Mr Sun Yong explained how the Shanghai international writers’s exchange, now in its eighth year, operates.
It became clear very quickly that the two writing organisations were on the same page. Mr Sun Yong said that the main purpose of the Shanghai programme is to give writers freedom to work, without too many interruptions or demands. Writers who take part in the programme have their travel costs covered, get free accommodation in a city apartment and a small stipend to cover basic living costs. The programme takes place in September and October each year, and up to nine writers are invited to Shanghai at one time. The programme is a fascinating opportunity for writers to live and work in Shanghai, as well as meeting fellow writers from other countries and the Shanghai literary community.
Later the same day, the delegation attended the formal signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Intent. The memorandum looks forward to an exchange in which a New Zealand writer will be selected to be a part of the Shanghai International Writers’ Programme next year and a writer from Shanghai will be selected to hold the eight week Rewi Alley fellowship at the Michael King Writers’ centre in 2015.
During the meeting, Karren spoke of her hopes for an ongoing exchange programme that might eventually lead to the publication of an anthology about the experiences of the writers in each city, which could be published in both languages. Mr Sun Yong said the Shanghai Writers’ Association strongly believed in the value of such international exchanges. The agreement is a very exciting development for the literary communities in New Zealand and in Shanghai.
The meeting and signing ceremony were followed by a banquet hosted by Mr Wang Xiaoshu, the executive Vice President of the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC) [aka Shanghai youxie] at the Jin Jiang Tower Hotel. It was a sumptuous end to a highly successful day.
On the last morning while at breakfast, the delegation were delighted to find this article in the Sunday edition of China Daily introducing the current exchange: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-09/09/content_16954891.htm
Karren Beanland (Director of Michael King Writers’ Centre, Auckland), September, 2013
For other articles covering other aspects on this Shanghai tour, click on the appropriate title below:
Visit to Shanghai Archives [article in preparation];