30 March 2017
Mr James Shea, Hong Kong Baptist University
From Iowa City to Kowloon City: The Cold War Origins of Hong Kong's First Creative Writing Workshop



This talk explores the development of Hong Kong poetry in the late 1960s and early 1970s through the prism of the University of Iowa’s creative writing program. It focuses on the historical relationship between the University of Iowa, particularly its International Writing Program (IWP), and Hong Kong’s first Chinese-language poetry writing workshop. The poet Dai Tian, who joined Iowa’s International Writing Program from 1967-1968, returned to Hong Kong and led community-based classes that adopted not only Iowa’s pedagogical methods, but also its aesthetic values, including clarity, concrete language, and everyday experience. Given that Hong Kong was a site of the U.S. government’s support for individualist values over collectivism during the Cold War, this talk argues that the IWP’s efforts against totalitarianism and communism met with a paradoxical twist in the case of Hong Kong writers who were resisting another form of hegemonic power, namely, British imperialism.



Last updated: 27 March 2017