Poetic touch that frees your mind

Poetic touch that frees your mind

Workshops encourage students to express themselves and show their creativity


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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