Qi Dong Poetry Salon: An Oasis Feeding a Poetic Renaissance
Poetry is the crucible of a language. Poetry writing, reading, and interpretation into song are the heart of literature, and an important component of art in the lives of Taiwan’s people.
In 2009, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs supervised the restoration of the Qidong St. Japanese Houses (located at Nos. 25 and 27, Jinan Rd. Sec. 2 in Taipei) at the behest of the Council for Cultural Affairs (which was promoted within the government hierarchy and renamed the Ministry of Culture in 2012). Upon the restoration’s completion, Minister of Culture Lung Yingtai rededicated the buildings as Qi Dong Poetry Salon, as the restored buildings would henceforth serve as a home for literature in the bustling capital city. Renowned architect Ray Chen was commissioned to design a poetry salon within the buildings. The National Museum of Taiwan Literature was then selected to run the salon and curate exhibitions here.
The Poetry Leap project being carried out here will promote innovation and interaction from 2014 through 2016 thanks to the generous support of Globe Union Industrial Corp. Chairman Ouyoung Ming. Quoting Song Dynasty poet Zhu Xi’s “Reflections on Reading,” Minister Lung likened the MOC’s role to being that of a mirror, with corporate sponsorship’s being that of a rejuvenating flow of water.
Qi Dong Poetry Salon reflects both Japanese and Western architectural philosophies. Its hipped roof is covered with black, Japanese-style tiles, and the tips of the roof ridge end in Onigawara, a type of Japanese gargoyle. The interior contains a number of Japanese elements, including shoe cabinets, room dividers, alcoves, a study, shutter cases, sliding shutters, catering windows, a study, and sash windows.
Preservation of Cultural Assets
While Director of Cultural Affairs for the Taipei City Government in 2000, Lung Yingtai recognized the importance of preserving the Qidong St. Japanese Houses and their appertaining greenery, and began to lay out plans to this end. In December 2002, the residents of Xinfu Borough, which encompasses the structures, began their own preservation efforts, bidden only by a collective affinity with the buildings and a desire to give future generations the chance to experience and cherish them. In July 2006, the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs set aside the structures and their adjacent grounds as a conservation area. Work has proceeded since this time to conserve the structures and refurbish them in recognition of their being cultural assets.