Roses are red, violets are blue...
Poetry is very much alive in Hong Kong
"If you think it's too late/To have your own dreams,/Or to laugh, and to scream..."
Reading her poem aloud, Miss Catherine Leung Ka-ling was nervous, very nervous. Her heart was beating frantically; even her voice was beginning to crack under the pressure. And then it was over – she regained her composure and her rendition was rewarded by an encouraging hug from a lady in the audience.
This was Poetry Out Loud, a poetry reading event held at the Fringe Club every month. It was here that Miss Leung, an author and secondary school principal, learned to trust her own voice.
Contrary to popular belief, poetry clubs are not all about having a serious interest in literature. Rather, they are just networks of people with a common interest in gathering in a cozy venue, which could be a bar or a park, and reading out their poems.
Mr Adam Cheung Man-yiu, the activity organiser for Kubrick Poetry, an amateur poetry club, recalled how he became a part of the poetic community.
"After living in Canada for years, I wanted to get into the atmosphere of poetry writing in Hong Kong and to meet new friends," said Mr Cheung. "The process is a lot of fun and very meaningful."
Every month, the club's members meet to share their poems. Over the years, it has invited many eminent poets of many languages to share and discuss their works. They included Ms Xu Xi, Mr Leung Ping-Kwan, Ms Gillian Bickley and Mr Wolfgang Kubin.
"One of the things I enjoy most is meeting a lot of great poets whom I have admired for a long time," said Ms Polly Ho Sai-fung, another organiser for Kubrick Poetry. "I've definitely gained a lot."
While Kubrick Poetry offers a more relaxed occasion for novice poets, Poetry Out Loud is more formal and recognised as a prestigious club with more established writers and poets.
"For English poetry, Poetry Out Loud is the most visible and prominent gathering in the city," said Mr Akin Jeje, a Poetry Out Loud regular. "This is our form of community in which we share and learn from each other and socialise and network."
"What we write can't exist in isolation," Mr Jeje said. "It needs to be experienced and shared with others."
While the tastes and preferences of the poetry lovers differ, they all agree that famous poets should not be the only ones to share their poems with the public.
Poet Mr Bak Lin Dak once even held a poetry reading event in a McDonald's restaurant.
"Some friends suggested that I hold a gathering at a place where many people can share their views on my works," she said. "But it's hard to find a venue."
She added that the location was unimportant, and what was important was that it provided a chance for people, all kinds of people, to gather and connect.
In September, poetry lovers from Kubrick Poetry gathered in Lai Chi Kok Park to rewrite many classical works as they celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival.
Elsewhere, students from the HKICC Lee Shau Kee Creativity School also held a poetry festival for the fifth year to promote poetry in an innovative way, with live bands, short films, drama and graphics.
"When my friends hear about poems, all they think of is something boring," said Mr Matthew Law Ho-pui, a Form Four student who participated in the event this year. "(In fact, poetry ) (brackets?) is anything but boring."
Ms Cecilia Choi Sze-wan, one of the student organisers, said students collaborated and created the drama performances with their own creative interpretations of the poems, which would be presented in a two-hour show.
And it is the younger generation's effort that has the hearts of Hong Kong's poetry world racing again.
"People in Hong Kong need poetry," said Ms Leung. She said that it gave people the space to think and to exchange ideas.
"Poetry isn't always about words, it's about expression," Mr Jeje added. "Anyone who is bold enough to express themselves in whatever artistic form they can muster is a poet at heart."
Reported by Giselle Chan
Edited by Kristine Basilio
《The Young Reporter》
The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.
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