By Julia Besnard
On 9 March, our community came together to celebrate the launch of the 21st issue of Imprint, WiPS’ annual anthology. Held in the gorgeous Hughes Room of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, the evening was part of the Hong Kong Literary Festival. Picture this: a large group of women (and one man!) finally gathered in person after three years of virtual events to celebrate the written word, hear some inspiring read-alouds, enjoy a glass (or two), mingle, and even try their luck at a Lit Quiz. The room was full of energy, laughter, and uplifting camaraderie. Gillian Kew and Rinkoo Ramchandani were our hosts for the evening; they eventually did away with the microphones and opted for the natural energy of their voices to keep us on track with the entertainment of the night.
We were all enthralled by Sadie Kaye’s hilarious reading of “Bake Fail” (an account of her disastrous Covid attempts at baking with her children) and moved by Susan Lavender’s outstanding performance of her poem “Concrete Cloud”, depicting the solitude of modern urban life. We travelled to India and back as Ritu Hemnani read an excerpt from her energetic piece, “Rickshaw”. Deborah Mannas recited “Cry”, an emotional poem about the stoic strength of people with relatives battling mental health problems.
Lesley Hobbs and Andy Lowe made us laugh and think with their performance of a skit about the absurd contradictions of ChatGPT and what it means for contemporary literature.
We were captivated by “Positive!”, a piece by Connie Lee Hamelin about the complex logistical and administrative realities of a Covid-stricken family in Hong Kong, which was adapted as a short play in a dynamic duo with Susan Lavender. The challenging years of Covid restrictions that have only just been lifted have undoubtedly left a mark among us all. However, Shiksha Bansal’s reading of her piece, “The Spirit of Hong Kong”, was a poignant reminder of the unique beauty of the city we call home.
Jennifer Eagleton’s challenging literary quiz had us searching our minds for memories of the classics we once read. The three English teachers who teamed up and won the grand prize together – nothing less than a bottle of Peninsula Champagne! – showed us how literature and community are intricately connected.
None of this would have been possible without the tremendous work of Carol Dyer, the editor of Imprint, who supported all the contributors throughout the year leading to the publication of the book.