Poetic touch that frees your mind

Poetic touch that frees your mind

Workshops encourage students to express themselves and show their creativity

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Viki Holmes (centre) with Carina Chan Yibei (right) and Phoebe Chan Chi-tung.
Viki Holmes (centre) with Carina Chan Yibei (right) and Phoebe Chan Chi-tung.
Photo: Sam Tsang
For Carina Chan Yibei, creating her own poem is a new experience. 'In our school, we only recite poems written by others. I've never written a poem myself,' says the 17-year-old student from Shanghai Minli High School.

Carina was in Hong Kong for Poemography, a six-day cultural exchange programme organised by the Swire Organisation for Youth Arts. Students from Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai attended a series of workshops where they were encouraged to express their thoughts through poems and photographs.

'I like photography and I want to write some poems,' says Carina.

Phoebe Chan Chi-tung, a student from Diocesan Girls' School, says: 'It's the first time I'd heard about poemography. But I think there are lots of similarities between poetry and photography. People say: 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.

'I like poetry because it is abstract and it allows me to convey ideas in a creative way. Viki is very open-minded; she doesn't expect a 'right' answer from us. She is passionate about expressing her feelings.'

'Viki' is Viki Holmes, a well-known British poet who lives in the city and conducted the workshops on poetry.

'I often find ways to help students break the fear [of poetry]. I tell them not to try to write something clever or show great language, but write what inspires them. Be sincere and write from your heart,' says Holmes. 'Poetry is like a conversation. And there's a lot to say as a teenager today.'

Carina used to think poetry was a mystery and not everyone could write it. 'But Viki told me it is about my story and my feelings,' she says. 'I can write whatever I feel.'

One of her poems was about her feelings for Shanghai. 'I describe Shanghai as a 'grey curtain'. It reflects the pollution and also how the people feel. They may seem happy but they are not,' Carina says.

Phoebe, too, thought the workshops were eye-opening.

'I didn't feel comfortable expressing myself because I didn't know how others might feel. The workshop taught me there is no right or wrong [when it comes to feelings] and I can express them in different ways,' she says.

With her teammates from Shanghai and Beijing, Phoebe won the gold award for the poem Like a Wasted Breath, and an outstanding award for their photographs.

As for Carina, she has discovered a new passion. 'When I go back to Shanghai, I will write in my free time. I like poetry much more now. I enjoy expressing my feelings,' she says.


Like a wasted breath

By Phoebe Chan, Cheung Tsz Hin, Acaleph Lu, Carol Mao, Cross Wang and Christine Yu

You are looking into a void —
The essence of an ever-changing world;
Your spineless body yearning to break free
From the flake of a shard
Of a fragmented whole.

You crave a memory;
A scent of remembrance —
Of people, places, objects —
The recollection of scenes
Rolling one after another,
Endless as the waves.

Yet you know you are simply
Pressing clammy fingers against icy surfaces,
Smiling wryly in a bittersweet bath
Of alcohol and lights,
Watching the city among starless skies.

Past and present merge
A thousand times more,
Like water and oil
In Dissonance:
A failed collision.

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