CUHK Professor Bei Dao Conferred Honorary Doctorate by Brown University
Prof. Bei Dao (Zhao Zhenkai), Professor of Humanities, Centre for East Asian Studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), was recently conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.) by Brown University, USA, during its 243rd Commencement for his outstanding achievements and contributions in literature. Other honourees included Gemini and Appollo astronaut David Scott, the 12th man visiting the moon and the first man driving on the moon; Nicholas Kristof, a two-time recipient of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times columnist; and Jack Nicholson, renowned movie star, director and producer who has won three Academy Awards.
Prof. Ruth J. Simmons, President of Brown University, read the following honorary citation during the ceremony, 'Through your insightful, powerful, and haunting poems you have given voice to a movement of freedom and expression in your home country and abroad. You once wrote: 'I don't believe the sky is blue; I don't believe in thunder's echoes; I don't believe that dreams are false; I don't believe that death has no revenge.' From Tiananmen Square and beyond, these words have inspired young people yearning for change. As the founder and publisher of an underground literary journal you have, often at great personal cost to yourself and your family, created and nurtured a platform for your fellow citizens to express themselves to the world. For your persistent faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity and the power of the written word and for your deep belief in freedom for all, we honour you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.'
Prof. Bei Dao humorously remarked at the President dinner reception the night before the Commencement, 'I even didn't finish my high school studies because of the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution. I'm so pleased to receive this first degree in my life.'
Bei Dao is the pseudonym of Zhao Zhenkai, a world-renowned poet and writer. Prof. Bei Dao has been committed to enhancing the development of poetry since joining CUHK in 2007. He has organized a series of poetry activities, including the annual 'International Poets in Hong Kong' inviting two distinguished poets to Hong Kong every year since 2010, and the biennial poetry festival – 'International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong' in 2009 and 2011. Prof. Bei Dao hopes to make literature a more prominent part of daily life in Hong Kong through various activities including poetry recitals, seminars and public lectures. He intends to both broaden the horizons of high school and college students and encourage creativity and imagination in their local environment.
Born in Beijing, Prof. Bei Dao co-founded the underground literary magazine Jintian ('Today') in 1978. During his sojourn in the USA, he taught in the University of California, Davis, the University of Alabama, the University of Notre Dame, and Beloit College. He has received numerous honours and awards for his distinguished achievements. Among these are the honour of being selected number one of the top ten Chinese poets by Zhong Shan magazine and the 9th Shanghai Literary Prize. His poetry has been translated into over thirty languages. His published books includeThe City Gates Open (2010), Night Watch (2009), Green Light (2006), The Rose of Time (2005), Midnight's Gate (2002), Unlock (2000), Blue House (1998) and Landscape Over Zero (1996) etc.