Cover Belle Ling pays homage to Hong Kong's cha chaan tengs through her poem, 63 Temple Street, Mong Kok (Photo: Courtesy of Belle Ling)

As International Women's Day approaches on March 8, we shine a spotlight on Hong Kong's leading female poets

As International Women's Day approaches next week on March 8, we're celebrating women from all walks of life. From Asian women who are making waves in the fashion world, to strong wellness warriors, and Hong Kong female chefs, this time, we're introducing Hong Kong's very own female poets.

Celebrate Asian female writers by sipping on their words of wisdom today—whether it's their love letters Hong Kong, or coming-of-age pieces, these female poets from Hong Kong will inspire you to dive deeper into your own self-discovery journey. 

See also: 15 Instagram Poets to Follow for Daily Inspiration and Beautiful Verse

1. Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

Tammy Lai-Ming Ho is an associate professor teaching fiction, poetry and poetics as well as modern drama at Hong Kong Baptist University. Outside of teaching, the poet works on her own writing, winning numerous awards and nominations for poetry and short stories while also acting as the founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. She writes about various topics, drawing inspiration from her personal life and the city.

Discover four of Tammy Lai-Ming Ho’s poems, Beijing Standard Time, One Little Room and Frames and This May Be a Love Poem

2. Cheng Tim Tim

Currently a teacher at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, Cheng Tim Tim is a teacher and poet whose work has previously been published in Cha, The Offing, SAND Journal, and the Cordite Poetry Review.

You’ll be able to feel her raw passion for Hong Kong through her writing—her most recent piece, titled Clubhouse, is a reflection on the new social media app that quickly gained a following due to its initial availability worldwide and can be found in Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine’s 59th issue.

Discover Cheng Tim Tim's Students Said and Annie Anyone?

See also: Clubhouse Co-Founder Rohan Seth Is A Dad On A Mission

3. Mary Jean Chan

Perhaps the most well-known Hong Kong poet, Mary Jean Chan is a London based writer and lecturer who has been named as one of the most influential BAME writers in Britain. Her poetry book, Flèche, meaning “arrow” in French, received high praise after it was published, winning the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry. 

The book’s name refers to an offensive technique used in fencing, Chan’s choice of sport during her young adult years. The title symbolises the difficult feelings she feels while navigating the world, describing it as “reconciling one’s need for safety alongside the desire to shed one’s protective armour in order to fully embrace the world”. 

Discover Mary Jean Chan’s poetry on her website

4. Belle Ling

Belle Ling may be practically invisible on social media, but this poet’s works have won numerous awards and nominations, from her first poetry collection, A Seed and a Plant that was shortlisted for The HKU International Poetry Prize 2010, to her recent poetry manuscript, Rabbit-Light that was awarded Highly Commended in the 2018 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. 

If you’re a fan of Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs, her award-winning poem, 63 Temple Street, Mong Kok will make you reminisce about the energy, relationships and food found at our iconic Hong Kong-style cafes. 

Discover Belle Ling’s other pieces, such as Dining Alone and Nebulous Vertigo

5. Sarah Howe

Sarah Howe is a Chinese-British poet from Hong Kong who has published several poetry chapbooks and books including A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia and Loop of Jade. Loop of Jade was Howe’s first poetry book which went on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2015—the first debut novel that ever won the award. Her poems in the book explore her dual Chinese and English roots, family, as well as life in Hong Kong. 

Discover Sarah Howe’s poems on her website

6. Rachel Ka Yin Leung

Psychology Oxford graduate, Rachel Ka Yin Leung may be the youngest one on the list, but her long list of accomplishments prove just how talented and hardworking this young poet is. Her debut poetry pamphlet, chengyu: chinoiserie was published by the Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020 and her poem, the summer critter speaks not of frost was awarded the Sir Roger Newdigate prize. You'll find themes of young love, coming-of-age, as well as re-interpretations of Chinese idioms in her debut pamphlet. 

Read Rachel Ka Yin Leung’s the summer critter speaks not of frost and 爹deh

7. Jennifer Wong

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Jennifer Wong previously taught poetry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and is currently teaching at Poetry School. Author of three poetry books, Letters Home, Goldfish and Summer Cicadas, Wong’s work has been awarded numerous awards such as the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Young Artist Award.

Discover Jennifer Wong’s poems on her website

See also: 9 Hong Kong Charities That Support Women

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