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Becoming poets

The Asian English experience

Agnes Lam

Literatures in English have emerged in several Asian communities and have enjoyed a growing readership. Creative writing programmes in Asia and other parts of the world have also attracted many new voices from Asia. However, little is known about how learners from different language backgrounds become published poets in English. This book is a pioneering work on the development of poets and poetry in English in Asia. It offers a five-stage model to understand such phenomena. The life experiences of 50 published poets from five Asian locations: Macao, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and India, based on interviews conducted by the author, and their poetry are analyzed to appreciate how learners of English in multilingual environments become published poets and how such individual metamorphosis contributes to the growth of literary communities at local, regional and cosmopolitan levels. Researchers on Asian Englishes and literatures in English, teachers and participants in creative writing programmes, policy makers for English in education or the nurturing of the creative arts and any one interested in poetry writing will find the book highly informative and inspiring.
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Chapter 1 – Introduction


Chapter 1Introduction


As the learning of English becomes more widespread in various countries, it has also been more adopted as a language for literary expression. Literatures in English have emerged in several Asian societies to different degrees and have attracted a certain readership both in Asia and in other parts of the world. However, while the readership for Asian writing in English has been growing, there has been relatively little research on how Asian learners of English become published writers of literature in English. Generally speaking, most studies of how poets or writers develop are presented as interviews from a particular region (for example, De Souza, 1999, on Indian poets; Lindfors, 2002, on African writers; Quayum, 2007, on Singaporean and Malaysian writers; and Klein, 2001 & 2009, on Singaporean writers) with little explicit comparative analysis of such reported experiences across countries. A good number of books on creative writing also tend to provide techniques that work at the practical level (for example, Casterton, 2005) or focus on composition as a micro process (Morley, 2007) rather than try to capture specifically the longitudinal development of learners of English growing into published writers.

The lack of knowledge about the development of learners of English into published writers is unfortunate because the developmental issues faced by these writers may have implications for the cultivation of literary appreciation and expression in the English language classroom in the Asian region as well as more general studies of intercultural...

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