In October 2019, the Third US-China Poetry Dialogue, the Mark Allen Everett Poetry Series and China’s China’s Poetry Institute, brought five famous Chinese and American poets together for public readings across three states, culminating in a ceremony that connected historic cities: Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a town renowned for its arts and letters, and the millennium-old city of Lanxi in Zhejiang, the hometown of Li Yu, a famous poet and dramatist in Qing dynasty. The cities were named the first “Poetry Cities of Friendship” in a ceremony that included a signing ceremony with public officials.
Earlier this spring, when the students at Clear Spring School in Eureka Springs heard about the difficult time children in Lanxi City were having during school closures due to COVID-19, they decided to write poems and notes of encouragement. A week after their tender letters of support reached their destination in China, they found out that their own classes were to be canceled for the foreseeable future for the same reason.
When the children's works reached China, they were published widely across China by China’s Poetry Society, and even featured in the national newspaper People’s Daily. A few days later, the children in the Shiyan kindergarten and Jiaogong kindergarten of Lanxi City wrote their own poems and painted posters to encourage their new friends across the globe and relay lessons they had learned from their months of quarantine experience.