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Words from Douglas

Hong Kong is often stereotyped as a place without much culture - all hard-eyed pragmatic bankers, no artists - but that has not been my experience. This is a place surging with creativity, and with a drive to find artistic expression, in words and other media. The stereotype may even have the effect of dampening some potential writers' enthusiasm for creative expression, but not in the English Department at Lingnan University, and, my impression is, not at other Hong Kong universities either. We have waves of students who come to us already loving to write - in English, which for most is a second language - and still more waves who come to us not entirely predisposed to hate writing, and who, when they more or less by chance end up in a writing class, surprise themselves by being really good at it, and loving it.

Not only that: we have a handful of students who love not only to write, but to edit other people's writing! This volume, like its predecessors in years past (?? in 2008: Deja Vu in 2010), was edited and compiled by undergraduate majors in the Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary English Studies (Hons.) at Lingnan University. They had the gentle and encouraging guidance and the contagious enthusiasm of our Writer-in-Residence in term 2: (2011-2012), Jennifer Wong, a Hong Kong-born and (usually) UK-based poet who is already beginning to draw attention with her poetry collections; we among the academic staff in the department have loved having Jenny with us this spring, and are sad to see her go, but my, guess is that her loyal devotees among the students will miss her most of all. Enjoy!

Douglas Robinson

Tong Tin Sun Chair Professor of English Head,

English Department

Words from Mike Ingham

On creative writing

Creativity has become a buzz-word in global education, but, I would argue, it is a concept that is poorly understood. People seek to apply it to various aspects of education that actually involve minimal genuine creative flair. Ironically, the aesthetic form of creativity has often been undervalued and even neglected in mainstream higher education. Fortunately, things have changed in many cultural contexts, and creative writing is beginning to be seen as a desirable addition for language and literature departments. Even here in conservative Hong Kong, genuine creativity is gradually creeping into university curricula, admittedly via the back door in many cases.

Now creativity in spoken language, especially in the form of drama, and creativity in writing, both fictional/imaginative and non-fictional genres, are assuming increased significance. For this reason we need the inspiration and guidance that artists- and writers-in-residence can offer us. I am delighted that our 3 writers-in-residence to date, Xu Xi, Justin Hill (both novelists) and, in the current academic year, poet Jenny Wong have all given our creative writing venture such a boost by spending a semester working with our students on various aspects of creative writing. Their dedicated and knowledgeable input over the last 4 years in the form of workshops, class teaching, editing work and editorial leadership on the Department's creative writing magazine has helped to make a difference and inspired all who those who value creative writing here at Lingnan.

Indeed, it matters little whether the creativity is in English or in Chinese. A good story is a good story, and a good poem is a good poem, irrespective of the original text language. What really matters is the impulse to express oneself imaginatively, to complement the critical and analytical writing required for most academic courses. I would argue strongly that in order to appreciate good quality writing, whether the factual/expository type or imaginative poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction, one needs to have a go oneself, and in the process discover how exciting, but also incredibly demanding, lucid and compelling written communication can be. So, a big 'thank you' to all who have written and edited for 'Onion'. Without your creative flair and effort there would be no magazine. 'Onion' is the 7th English Dept. magazine to date. We look forward to seeing the 8th in due course.


Mike Ingham

Publication Date



Department of English, Lingnan University


Hong Kong


English Language and Literature

Recommended Citation

Undergraduate majors, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Contemporary English Studies (2011-2012), Lingnan University (2012). Onion: Literary magazine. Hong Kong: Department of English, Lingnan University. Retrieved from

Onion : literary magazine