UNNC Voice: Connecting the world through the spirit of poetry and language

07 October 2019

7 October: “UNNC VOICE” released an episode of the poem, Although the Tortoise Lives Long, by the well-known Politician Cao Cao, on the Seniors’ Day. It is translated and read by Dr Margaret Gillon Dowens, an associate Professor of Psycholinguistics. As an experimental psychologist, she surprisingly found inspiration for research in this ancient Chinese poem. 

When speaking of her reason for choosing this poem, Dr Dowens expressed her interest in Chinese literature and in particular the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the most outstanding Chinese classics. Through extensive reading, she found Cao Cao to be a knowledgeable and excellent leader, general and statesman, who was a great poet.

"This poem is particularly relevant to me because it brings my interest in literature and research in science together. I study how our brain copes with ageing and how we can stay healthy when we get old – physically healthy and mentally active. But I surprisingly found that Cao Cao realised this 2000 years ago when reading Although the Tortoise Lives Long". 

The podcast is one episode of "UNNC VOICE" - co-produced by UNNC scholars, professional staff and students that launched on the largest podcast platform in China, Ximalaya FM. The Lady Susan Greenaway Fellowship Fund sponsored it and was managed by the Library at the University.

The Programme consists of 30 pieces of poems from 25 poets, read by 22 guests in 8 languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Polish and Danish, to represent the multilingual culture of UNNC to the broader Chinese online community. 

In the last episode, Professor Martin Lockett, Dean of NUBS China, shared his reflections on Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again by Zhimo Xu and read the poem in Chinese for the first time. "It reminds me of my Cambridge experience when I, as a student, lived in a 16-century building for a year," he recalled. "It was unusual, especially when compared to that of a modern university like UNNC."

As many of the original and translated versions of the poems involve copyright, the Programme sponsors got in touch with the copyright owners. The translator of Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again happened to be a scholar from the University of Cambridge. When he heard about the Programme, he was delighted that someone liked his translation and would like to follow the podcast. 

"It felt as if the world is connected by poetry," Zoe Chen from the university library illustrates that the programmes much-received attention. Therefore, with the second run of "UNNC VOICE" in preparation, it is certainly hoped that more staff from the University and students can participate in promoting cultural communications even more extensively.