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  • OU CIS

2021 Newman Prize for English Jueju Contest to Open December 20th

The Newman Prize for English Jueju, a poetry competition sponsored by the OU Institute for US-China Issues in the College of International Studies, opens for submissions December 20th with a deadline of February 25th. The Newman Prize for English Jueju is awarded every two years to the best classical Chinese poems written in English, and it offers an opportunity for teachers, students and adults to learn and explore a new creative form. This week (December 14-21) the website Poetry Daily is featuring a translation and essay on English jueju by Institute for US-China Issues co-director and CIS professor Jonathan Stalling, which you can read here.

What is Jueju?

For over 1,500 years, Chinese poetry has been read and composed in Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese. This was possible because classical Chinese poetry, or jueju, follows very strict rules that can transcend language barriers and be mastered by anyone with the determination to learn. For much of Chinese history, composing regulated poetry was a way to test intelligence, creativity and compatibility with the Chinese governing worldview, making it a key skill for anyone who aspired to climb the social ladder. Given this importance, many aspiring statesmen treated jueju as a competitive form of social gameplay that helped them hone their skills.

Jueju in English

While most American students have composed a Japanese Haiku, few have read, let alone composed, a Chinese jueju (a stanza of four lines), which inspired the Japanese form. Through the Newman Prize for English Jueju, Oklahoma students are leading the way in introducing this poetic form to the English speaking world. The English form of jueju is just now turning 20 years old, and was first taught by Jonathan Stalling at UC Berkeley in 1997. By using their own language as if it were Chinese, English speakers learn deep cultural concepts that have guided Chinese civilization for thousands of years.

Contest Guidelines

In the 2021 contest, six $500 prizes will be awarded to winning poets: four to Oklahoma K-16 students and adults, one for the best English Jueju from the other American states and one for the best English jueju from the UK. The 2019 Newman Prize winners were Tobin Bosse (elementary school), Carleigh Wilcox (middle school), Ari Johnson (high school) and Shane McClendon (adult); you can read their winning entries here.

Those interested in entering should visit the About English Jueju page, which provides a guide to the form as well as a wealth of teaching and learning resources. Note for teachers: Due to the many cultural, artistic and linguistic elements that enrich this complex form of poetry, we encourage not only English and Chinese classes to participate, but also social studies, history, art, music, drama and AP classes of all subjects. Students who enjoy word games, poetry or both are especially encouraged to enter!

Contest Information:

  • Winning English language poems must follow the rules of classical Chinese poetry detailed in the teaching resources.

  • Both “Old Style” and “New Style” Jueju can be submitted (see website for guides to each)

  • Submissions can be composed by individual students or collectively by whole classes (submitted by a teacher). If a collectively written poem is selected, the class receives the prize money.

  • For winning students, parents and teacher will all be invited to the Newman Prize ceremony (online in 2021) where the winning poems will be read and certificates and checks will be presented to the winners.

  • All poems must be submitted to by March 6, 2021.

The OU Institute for US-China Issues invites anyone eligible to try their hand at jueju and submit to the competition — no literary expertise necessary! For full guidelines, information and resources, visit the Newman Prize for English Jueju website.


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