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Library celebrating Chinese New Year with annual couplet contest

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 5:47 PST, Fri January 21, 2022

The Richmond Public Library is offering its annual couplet contest again this year in celebration of Chinese New Year.

This is the fifth year that the contest, which is a partnership with the Chinese Couplets Study Club, has been offered. While the 2020 contest was cancelled, it went ahead last year, celebrated with an outdoor awards ceremony at the plaza outside the Brighouse branch. This year’s contest is accepting submissions through Feb. 1.

“The library is committed to increasing the literacy of our community, and one way we can do that is by offering literary programs such as the Chinese couplet-writing contest,” according to Stephanie Vokey, coordinator of marketing and public relations, and Wendy Jang, coordinator of collections and customer service delivery. “Writing couplets is a traditional activity for Chinese community members during Lunar New Year celebrations, and the library is pleased to contribute and to help share this fun tradition with other Richmond residents.”

The five judges who will select the winners are A Nong, Tianxing Li, Richard Lee, Weiyan and Ronald Zhang. Well-known in the Chinese community, they come from varied backgrounds including a fiction author, award-winning poets and members of the Chinese Couplets Study Club.

“To ensure impartial judging, the judges will only see the second line submitted; the names and contact information of the contestants will be removed,” say Vokey and Jang. “The judges will rate the submissions and then select the winners. Contestants can submit multiple second lines, but they can only win one prize.”

While submissions in English are accepted and may be eligible for an encouragement prize, they will not be eligible to win one of the main prizes. This is because the rules for the couplets cannot be applied to non-tonal languages like English.

The first line of the couplet is provided below:

白虎出山,正氣寅風摧丑運

The white tiger comes out from the mountain. His righteous air blows away bad luck.

Interested people can submit a second line. To enter the contest, click here.

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