Agnes Lam, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, specialises in Asian poetry in English and also writes poetry.

Kelly Tse is a postgraduate student at the University of Hong Kong.

Acts of creative identity

Ten Asian poets writing in English

Writers realise their creative practice only through the physical loci of their bodies. While writing is a solitary task, unless writers are contented with being lone voices crying in separate wildernesses, they must go beyond their embodied selves into the community. For writers writing from bilingual or multilingual backgrounds, their acts of creative identity usually require them to negotiate between two or more communities. This paper focuses on how Asian poets writing in English identify with their local, ethnic, national and/or international communities in terms of their readership. It draws upon interview excerpts collected during fieldwork to five Asian places (Macao, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and India). Though ten poets from each location were interviewed from October 2009 to November 2010, the paper will only discuss the creative practice of two poets from each place. The data show that there is fluidity in identification with writers finding their own bearings at different loci of a virtual literary terrain where boundaries exist in a somewhat diffuse manner; perhaps it is this very diffusion that allows them to share their embodied poetic knowledge(s) in a distributed manner so that the creativity of the global poetic community exceeds that of each locale and each poet.

Keywords: Asian poetry—creative writing—English—identity—community