Does poetry come from the rain?

(Polly Ho)

Agnes Lam (林舜玲) presents a classical feminine poet impression when I first met her in Kubrick. This primitive impression is confirmed when I read her books of poetry. I hear a tender and sensitive voice. 

Although Agnes was born and raised in Hong Kong, she found herself to be better expressed in English than in Chinese. She started writing English poems at an early age of 13. Why did she write poems? In her book “Women to Women”, she once said “To me, poetry is part of everyday life.” which is so similar to the Kubrick Poetry objective in our website. We also see poetry not only as literary but as a way of living. “Today I arrive earlier and I was sitting looking at the rain outside. Does poetry come from the rain or the people moving in the bookstore? Maybe. I see poetry everywhere in everything. In a sense that it comes from nothing.” 

“Women to Women” is her first poetry book published in 1997 and “Water wood pure splendour” is her second poetry book in 2001. Owing to the name of her first poetry book, she is recognized as a feminine poet but she never has the consciouses to write ONLY from woman’s point of view. It is Agnes’s point of view and feelings. 

Agnes has been teaching in the university for many years. Ever since graduation from the university of Pittsburgh in 1984, she taught at the National University of Singapore until 1990, thereafter, the University of Hong Kong as associate professor. She teaches students as well as teachers how to teach. What is the difference between teaching students and teachers? “It’s easier to teach teachers because they know what and why they are here to learn.”

The poem “Vanilla in the Stars” earns Agnes the Nosside International Poetry Prize special mention in 2008. “This poem can describe the myth of human relationship, the relationship of Polly and me or Mr Leung Ping Kwan and me. This is only the third time I met Polly, first in Kubrick and second in Outloud. For Mr Leung Ping Kwan, he is my most favourite Chinese poet. We both teach in HKU but we never met each other in the campus though we are just a few blocks away. Then we came to know each other in a conference in Toronto in 1992 and remained good friends though we seldom had the chance to meet.”

After the poetry event, I received a few poems inspired by Agnes’ reading and the rain. The light of the stars has reached the heart of the audience. Poetry, sometimes, does come from the rain. 

(photos by Adair)