Confrontational art on a major scale! One marvels at Kiefer’s concept, enterprise and industrial skill.
It’s a long time since WiPS organized an event at an art gallery. The last (also on Hollywood Road) was to learn about antique maps, which of course embrace an element of publishing. The Anselm Kiefer event, arranged in August when WiPS is traditionally “in recess”, was primarily intended as a social gathering for members and guests left in Hong Kong and wilting in its heat.
Entered through a magnificent pair of rustic Chinese doors, the Villepin gallery was blissfully cool, a sensation accentuated by its ultra-white walls and staircase, providing a contrasting backdrop for Kiefer’s striking compositions.
Regarded as one of the most important – if polarizing – artists working today, Anselm Kiefer was born in Germany towards the end of the Second World War. He knew from childhood that he wanted to paint and after studying and working in Germany until the early 1990s, he moved to France where he established a 200-acre studio compound. Most of his works until this time deal with subjects drawn from Germany and its culture and have been referred to as “a Pandora’s box of fascist and nationalistic imagery” portraying the unrelenting cycles of history, and of creation and destruction.
The pieces displayed by Villepin are recent, produced from 2020 to 2022. The more upbeat title “Golden Age” recalls the classical peak of human civilization and the flourishing of peace and prosperity, pointing to hope for the future. The artworks themselves are certainly golden, but they are nonetheless philosophically challenging!
Supper that followed at a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant offered a convivial milieu for debate. How lucky we are in Hong Kong at times!
Welcome to our Summer newsletter! If you’ve stayed back in the city, you’re probably keeping cool indoors away from the heat and humidity that is July in Hong Kong! Whether you’re working on your Imprint 22 submission or immersing yourself in your summer reads, we hope you’ll take a break and note the exciting events we’ve lined up for the rest of this year. From a gallery visit and poetry workshops to a yet-to-be confirmed author event and a festive gathering, there’s something for everyone!
Upcoming Event: Gallery Visit to Anselm Kiefer: Golden Age Wednesday, 16 August 2023, 6pm Join us for a WiPS-exclusive guided visit to this exhibition at the Villepin Gallery, Central [https://www.villepinart.com/] where world-renowned German artist Anselm Kiefer explores the utopian ideal of human civilization with works that evoke the mythology and nostalgia of the ancient “Golden Age”. Born in Germany in 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, Kiefer has directed his artistic focus on historical, often controversial, themes. Featuring a large-scale installation and monumental paintings created between 2020 and 2022, the “Golden Age” exhibition offers a dazzling demonstration of Kiefer’s probing creativity. This is a novel opportunity for WiPS members and guests to gather at a summer art event, followed by an optional self-pay dinner nearby. To register, go to: https://www.hkwips.com/events/.
Upcoming Event: Poetry for All Back by popular demand, Sherryl Clark will run two new creative training classes in late September and early October. Designed for poets, would-be poets and those who enjoy reading poetry, these workshop classes will be held by Zoom at 10 am on Saturday, 23 September and Saturday, 7 October. As previously, Sherryl’s events will be recorded and available for 7 days for all who register. Sherryl is a prolific writer of poetry and an experienced teacher. She has two collections of poetry published in Australia and recently won a Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her children’s verse novel Mina and the Whole Wide World, published by University of Queensland Press. More details of class content to follow.
Upcoming Event: Winter Holiday Season Dinner at the FCC We know it’s still only summer, but the WiPS committee is looking ahead to celebrate the year with our members. Watch out for more information on our festive dinner planned for late November!
Ongoing Event: WiPS Monthly Book Club Running for a year and a half now, Book Club has a core group of very active members and “semi-regulars” who pop by when they can. Our July meeting is set for Thursday, 31 July at 7pm HK time, when we will discuss “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” by Shehan Karunatilaka. Join us (members free / non-members HK$80 per session). Register at https://www.hkwips.com/events/.
Ongoing Event: Writing Workshops WiPS members have now been sharing their writings with each other on an unbroken monthly basis since April 2022. These 2-hour online interactive workshops have become highlights of our eager participants’ calendar. We operate a min/max 4 to 8 submissions per workshop and since inception have never had fewer than five pieces. Regular submissions (max 2,000 words) must be submitted 4 days in advance and the one (per month) long piece (max 5,000 words) 7 days in advance. Only WiPS members can submit a long piece, which is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. So, who is putting their inspired fiction or non-fiction writing hand up for 4th August?!
Did You Read the Small Print? On 9 May, courtesy of leading Hong Kong law firm Oldham, Li & Nie [https://oln-law.com/], WiPS members learned what not to do when it comes to publishing contracts and copyright. Copyright to manuscripts lasts 50 years after the author’s death. Copyright to original works can be established simply and cheaply via Hongkong Post and a sealed envelope. Book titles are not exclusive to anyone but for marketing purposes it pays to be original. With literary competitions, you must remember you’ll be bound by the contest organizer’s terms and conditions, which you signed on entry. By the end of the evening, the first-time and not yet published writers amongst us understood that the publisher holds a lot of the contractual power and so we should only work with the reputable players. https://www.hkwips.com/2023/did-you-read-the-small-print/
A Rare Treat Not quite witchcraft and wizardry, but there’s definitely some magic in old books. In June, seven WiPS members gathered at Lok Man Rare Books [http://www.lokmanbooks.com/] to learn about the entrancing world of antique volumes. If you’re looking for a unique present for that special someone or wish to treat yourself to a collector’s edition of your favourite novel, Lok Man is just the place for you. https://www.hkwips.com/2023/hidden-gem-in-a-bustling-alleyway/
New Members A warm welcome to our three new members who have joined since April: Daniela Alam, Do Do Chan and Jenny Chang.
Refer a Friend Current members who successfully refer someone to join WiPS will be offered free entry to one event (up to $200). Remind your friends to let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org that it’s you who encouraged them to become a member.
Imprint 22 We eagerly await members’ contributions to the next issue of Imprint. The deadline for submissions is30 September 2023 for a launch in early March 2024, so please start writing or refining your best work! We ask members kindly to respect the deadline as we cannot guarantee inclusion of late submissions. If you would like to submit work early, we will be pleased to receive it. If you wish to submit more than one poem, please send the pieces in one file only with a collective title. We can accommodate up to only 120 lines (including stanza breaks) in the section from each poet, especially if you are also submitting prose and/or artwork. Please see https://www.hkwips.com/imprint/ for other guidelines.
Valery Garrett WiPS is sad to report the death earlier this year of Valery Garrett, a former committee member. Born in Britain in 1942, Valery lived in Hong Kong from 1973 onwards, and from her early interest in traditional dress worn in Hong Kong in the 1970s, she became an acknowledged authority on Chinese dress and accessories. Over 250 items from her collection were acquired and exhibited by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for their permanent collection. A fashion designer turned full-time freelance writer, she specialized in Chinese culture and travel, especially of Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Valery was the author of eleven highly regarded internationally published books.
On 15 June 2023, seven members of WiPS gathered at 6 Chancery Lane, the proud home of Lok Man Rare Books Limited. Walking into the shop was like walking into the common room of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Solid oak bookshelves lined the premises, complemented with squashy bespoke armchairs and warm lights. Although there was no fireplace, any absence was well compensated by the free flow of wine and cheese pairings!
Founded in 1989, Lok Man Rare Books has earned a strong reputation for expertise, integrity, and professionalism in the rare book industry. Owner Mr. Lorence Johnston shared with us how he started the business, his trade secret on matching customers, and his hunting adventures around the world for unique and rare antique books. By the end of the evening, he had also shared his knowledge of bookbinding; a lavish binding adds to the desirability of a book as a collectible and to the pleasure it brings! As Lorence spoke, members could sense his excitement in displaying his several newly acquired treasures, including Ian Fleming’s (writer of the James Bond series) travel journal, and also his obsession with his finest hand-picked books collection on sports, games, and recreation, such as “The Art of Golf” by Sir W.G. Simpson. In the past 34 years, Lok Man has organized numerous successful auctions and private sales of rare books and manuscripts, including many important and highly sought-after works. Indeed, Lorence leaves his mark on the antiquarian book world!
So next time you pass by Tai Kwun, the former Central Police Station Compound, be sure to make a short detour to the lane behind and discover this hidden gem that is Lok Man Rare Books. Lorence promises there are no spells in place and there is no need to answer any riddle in order to enter!
On May 9, WIPS members (old and newly recruited!) gathered in the offices of leading Hong Kong law firm Oldham, Li & Nie to learn what NOT to do (or rather sign away!) when it comes to publishing contracts and copyright. The firm’s founding partner Gordon Oldham and Head of IP Benjamin Choi had put together a great presentation, and the subsequent discussion could have gone for hours or at least until the generously provided wine and snacks ran out! We got so many important takeaways. We now know that copyright in an original manuscript lasts 50 years after the author’s passing and can be established simply and cheaply via Hongkong Post and a sealed envelope. Book titles are not exclusive to anyone, but for marketing purposes it pays to be original. While winning a literary competition is obviously wonderful, it’s important to remember you’ll be bound by the contest organiser’s terms and conditions which you signed during your initial submission.
A discussion on libel and defamation pitfalls revealed hilariously tall (and maybe even stark-naked!) happenings in one early 20th-century colonial outpost. Unsurprisingly, that story never made it into print even after the protagonist had long departed for gin-soaked appearances on celestial balconies!
By the end of the evening, the first-time and not yet published writers amongst us were reminded that the publisher holds a lot of the contractual power and so we should only work with the reputable players. It really is important to instruct a lawyer on contractual matters, publishing related or otherwise, right from the get-go. If you are Hong Kong based and want practical and impartial advice on some not so fine print, contact Gordon and Benjamin!
Welcome to the Spring edition of the WiPS newsletter! The masks are off, the tourists are back, and Hong Kong is once again the thriving city we all know and love! And we at WiPS couldn’t be happier! With another successful Imprint launch behind us, we’re thrilled to share that our committee is growing, and we’re exploring ways to resume our in-person connections this year while keeping our regular monthly workshops online to engage our overseas members.
New Committee Member: Lesley Hobbs Lesley has lived and worked in Hong Kong since August 2007. She is the founder/owner of consulting & legal recruitment firm Red Pillar Consulting Limited. She joined WiPS in 2017 and has had pieces published in the three latest issues of Imprint. WiPS members attending the recent FCC-hosted Imprint 21 launch witnessed Lesley channelling her best Gillian Anderson playing Margaret Thatcher! Lesley is at first draft stages of what she hopes will be either her debut fictional memoir or novel.
Upcoming Event: Did You Read the Small Print? Avoiding the pitfalls of publishing contracts Tuesday, 9 May 2023 (6:30–8:30 p.m.) WiPS is excited to be joining forces next month with leading Hong Kong law firm Oldham, Li & Nie (OLN Law) to learn how our members can avoid the pitfalls of publishing contracts. Other legal issues important to the writing community such as copyright and IP infringement will also be covered by the speakers. OLN is hosting the event which will take the form of a 45–60-minute presentation followed by Q&A. Wine will be provided. For registration, go to: https://www.hkwips.com/events/.
Upcoming Event: Rare Books Back by popular demand! WiPS members are invited once again at Lok Man Rare Books for a discussion on the rare books market in Hong Kong and beyond. So, whether you’re a bona fide bibliophile or just like the idea of being surrounded by leather-bound volumes that are a couple of hundred years old, please join us for an evening of books, wine and nibbles at the enchanting hideaway of Lok Man Rare Books in Chancery Lane. Space is limited for this event (planned for June), so look out for details.
Writing Workshop The writing workshop is back after a one-month break in March, and we’re on fire! Celebrating our one-year anniversary, we were at full capacity and had to start a waiting list for the last session. So, if you’re keen on exploring your creativity in a safe and supportive environment, register now at https://www.hkwips.com/events/. We’re also excited to announce that from now on, regular attendees Lesley Hobbs, Andy Lowe and Gillian Kew will take turns with Rinkoo Ramchandani to facilitate this workshop, allowing Rinkoo to spend more time on her growing business, and helping us keep this popular workshop going in its second year.
Book Club Our WiPS Book Club also celebrated its first birthday recently! Over the past year we have shared our views on a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction titles, from recent releases to the slightly more “mature” offerings, but, as yet, no “classics”. Our democratic voting process gives everyone the chance for her book choice to be selected. We meet once a month, over Zoom, providing group members in compatible time zones the opportunity to join our friendly sessions. An optional Book Club WhatsApp group enables us to share interesting, book-related stories and information, advice, and tips.
In May we will read The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. Would you like to join us? The Book Club is free for WiPS members and HK$80 per session for non-members. To learn more, visit https://www.hkwips.com/events/.
Launch of Imprint 21 March 9 marked a double celebration for WiPS: the anthology had become of age, and as a Society we were finally back together in the FCC after an absence of three years. Drinks in hand, members and guests filled the Hughes Room with energy, laughter and uplifting camaraderie during which the evening’s entertainment was rated “the best ever”. This was thanks to nine talented members (Shikha Bansal, Susan Lavender, Sadie Kaye, Lesley Hobbs, Andy Lowe, Ritu Hemnani, Deborah Mannas, Connie Lee Hamelin and Jennifer Eagleton) who read or recited their Imprint pieces (or excerpts from them), produced a skit on ChatGPT, staged a short play and hosted a challenging literary quiz. It was enjoyable theatre indeed! [https://www.hkwips.com/2023/imprint-comes-of-age-at-the-fcc/]
New Members A warm welcome to our four new members: Sally Grace Bunker, Rosann Kao, Mei Sum Seto and Purnima Solapurkar.
WiPS on WhatsApp We’re finally on WhatsApp! Stay tuned for an invite to join our read-only members WhatsApp group, giving you quick access to event announcements, registration links and more!
Mailed copies of Imprint 21 If you were unable to join us at the Imprint launch during the Hong Kong International Literary Festival in March, you should receive your copy of the anthology by the end of April. Please feel free to contact us if it doesn’t arrive.
Imprint 22 We look forward to your submissions with anticipation! The deadline is 30 September 2023 for a planned launch in March 2024. We ask members to kindly to respect the deadline as we cannot guarantee inclusion of late submissions. Please see https://www.hkwips.com/imprint/.
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.