By Jessica Mizzi

 

There was a buzz in the air on Thursday night as the who’s who of the Hong Kong literary scene cleared their calendars for the WiPS night of nights! The launch of the 22nd issue of Imprint, the annual Women in Publishing Society anthology, is certainly a cornerstone event bringing long-term members together while welcoming newcomers like myself.

It’s a slightly daunting task walking into an event knowing no one. I shouldn’t have worried though. I could already hear the warm and friendly chatter as I ascended the stairs toward the Hughes Room. More people arrived, collecting their precious copies of Imprint and making the rounds of the room. I spent the evening chatting to writers, poets, philanthropists, lawyers, librarians, each as open to conversation as the next. There’s something incredibly empowering about gathering such creative, diverse and influential women in a historically masculine space like the FCC. In the words of Jo Lusby who kindly contributed the Foreword to Imprint 22 and graciously opened the evening, just because we’re used to seeing women, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support them, and WiPS does just that by providing a platform for women’s voices in Hong Kong.

As the formalities kicked off attendees were treated to the diverse range of readings offered up by WiPS members. The night opened with Natalie Wong’s “Jumbo” (read by Rinkoo Ramchandani) to set the mood and tone, followed by Susan Lavender’s magnificent reading of “The Tailorbird” by Carol Dyer. Sadie Kaye’s “The Snide Sniper” brought audible laughter to the room and had me reflecting on how even the most classic of children’s literature hits a little differently when examined through the 21st century lens. The laughs continued with Andy and Lesley’s portrayal of Nigella Lawless and Greta Thunderbird that will surely be reprieved as WiPS folklore for years to come.

A quiz of the classics put together by Jennifer Eagleton had even the most learned amongst us questioning their abilities. The efforts of Holly Sykes and Genevieve Hilton coming out on top with a phenomenal lead are therefore definitely worth an honourable mention.

The second act took a more reflective tone, with an emotional reading of “Awake at 3 a.m.” by Maureen Tai, Holly Sykes’s wistful “Schoolgirl Sisters” and Emily Ho’s “Wisdom at the Barber’s Shop” (with Susan again taking to the stage). To close the night, a memorial to the late Kay Ross with Susan delivering a heartfelt ode reminiscing on the free birthday hugs and Playground of Possibilities for which Kay was renowned.

To paraphrase Jo Lusby’s opening, a single narrative cannot stand for one experience. It’s an exciting time to be writing in Hong Kong and what an honour it was to attend the Imprint launch, sharing the room with such talent.