Targeting Latin America

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Chinese writer Cao Wenxuan (sixth from right) and Sun Xintang (seventh from right), deputy director of the Confucius Institute Latin American Regional Center, talk with local officials at the National Congress of Chile in 2016. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A major push is now on to take contemporary Chinese literature to an untapped audience, Yang Yang reports.

On July 10, 2017, around 300 locals gathered at Medellin Public Library, the venue for the Medellin International Festival of Poetry in Colombia, to listen to recitations by many poets.

After Chinese poet Zhou Sese read her poem Zuihou De Tiwen (The Last Body Temperature), Leo Munoz, a Colombian poet, started reading the Spanish version that was translated by Sun Xintang, deputy director of the Confucius Institute Latin American Regional Center.

In the packed hall, 41-year-old Sun stood beside Zhou and Munoz.

It was a poem Zhou had dedicated to her mother who died a year earlier. It started with "Mom's body is still warm/Only if my mom's body/Is warm/I still have mom".

As Munoz read on, Sun raised his head to look at the audience, and found tears running down Paraguayan poet Shirley Villalba's face. She was in the first row, and behind her, some other members of the audience were also wiping their eyes.

After the recitation, applause broke out, and people, young and old, men and women, came to hug Zhou.

"I was deeply touched by the scene. The empathy, which transcended geographical boundaries, cultural differences and language, was established through the poem, and with my translation," says Sun, recounting his participation in the poetry festival.

He started working for the Confucius Institute in Latin America six years ago.

Sun says there is a big "trade deficit" of literature between China and Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking Latin American countries.

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