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World Congress of Poets







Ritsuko Kawabata with Goro Ihara
Ritsuko brought tears to the audience reading 
about Tokyo in 1945.


PRESS RELEASE 25 Sept 2001

18 famous Chinese poets who we have invited to the XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney 7th - 11th October have been refused visas to come to Australia.

We were made aware a day ago that visas had been refused to all 18 of the poets we have invited to come to the first time this Congress has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The poets include academics, editors of literary magazines and other well known poets from China and Inner Mongolia.

Some are supported by their government to come here.  All have already paid their registration fees.  They were selected by the Australian Chinese Writer's Association and we invited them here to read their poetry, meet other poets and give papers at the Congress.

The main theme of the Congress is "Poetry for World Peace in the New Millennium" - a particularly relevant theme.

The Congress Committee  is extremely upset at the refusal, as these poets are a vital part of our Congress.  No reason can be given due to privacy laws, officials in Canberra and at the Embassy in Beijing advised me when I phoned yesterday and today.  Applicants could re-apply they said, but the
embassy will be closed for seven days from 1st October for the public holiday of the Moon festival in China.

How does one suddenly reapply in the next two days from Sichuan, Shanghai, Nanning or Inner Mongolia?  Why should all 18 be refused?

There are thirteen different cultural origins represented on the Congress organising committee, including Chinese, and it is supported by a number of Australian writers' organisations and Writers' Centres. The Congress was
first held in 1969. Two hundred poets are expected to attend the Congress which will be held at the Landmark Parkroyal Hotel, Potts Point.