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Teen wins hearts with her victory in poetry contest

By ZHANG KUN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-09 05:33

Wu Yishu, a 16-year-old student from Shanghai, has become an overnight sensation after winning the final of a TV poetry contest on Tuesday.

China Central Television's Chinese Poetry Competition was one of the most popular shows during Spring Festival.

Aired in 10 episodes on CCTV-10 between Jan 29 and Tuesday, the show featured more than 100 contestants from across China who competed based on their knowledge and memorization of classical Chinese poems.

To win the title, Wu, who attends Shanghai's Middle School Attached to Fudan University, beat more mature and credentialed contestants, including multiaward-winning reality TV star Peng Min and doctoral candidate Chen Geng.

Yan Fang, the show's director, was impressed with Wu. Noting that the student "loves poetry just because it makes her happy", Yan praised her calmness throughout the show, whether winning or losing a round.

"She didn't display much excitement or thrill after winning the championship. Such a cool attitude is very unusual for her age," Yan said.

Wu and her family declined media requests for an interview.

Wu Jian, the principal of her school, said the girl's performance was consistent with her personality.

He said her success inspired him to "be more aware of the heritage of culture in education work".

"Absorbing the fine culture of the nation will have a lifelong impact on a person and is precious in the growth of each student. An important part of one's upbringing in humanity is identifying with his or her national cultural heritage," he said.

This is the second year the Chinese Poetry Competition was made and aired by CCTV-10. This year, the show had one of the highest viewer ratings among programs broadcast during Spring Festival. It also was popular on internet streaming, inspiring wide public interest in Chinese poetry and other literary classics.

Stories about Wu Yishu have been viewed and forwarded hundreds of thousands of times on social media, such as one piece titled "This Beautiful Girl Fulfilled All My Fantasies for Classic Chinese Women's Talents".

Chu Shui'ao, head of the Shanghai Association of Chinese Poetry for more than 20 years, said the show and Wu's achievement will boost promotion of ancient Chinese poetry. However, systematic guidance at the primary and middle school levels will be needed to promote cultural heritage on a large scale, he added.

Huang Ronghua, head of the Chinese teachers' department at Wu's school and editor of a classic poetry textbook, said that "good teaching of classical literature will not only help students at the college entrance examination, but, more important, will provide rich soil of cultural heritage for the development of each student".

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