Passionate and creative and in love with writing about Macau

Sunday, September 16, 2007
Issue 108, Page 5
Word count: 628
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

With a strong desire to spread across the writing culture in Macau, the two-year-old Association of Stories in Macao (ASM) is a non-profit organisation that strives to serve local writers for the better.

President Jenny Lao yesterday spoke to the Macau Daily Times exclusively about the origins of the association at the University of Macau in 2002.

Literature Professor Kit Kelen, an Australian who has obtained his Macau citizenship, was teaching creative writing to around 10 students.

The group worked on research, and later started a story circle to publish stories within the campus.

Three years later, with the lead of Profession Kelen, now the chief editor of the ASM, the group decided to expand the circle by involving more people interested in writing and reading stories.

As a result, Jenny said the ASM was born in September 2005 to a group of passionate local creative writers with the aim of encouraging writers to write more stories either in or about Macau.

Apart from publishing story and poetry books written by their members, the ASM provides a platform for writers to brainstorm ideas, establish network, or to simply chill out.

Although the association was established in 2005, it was not until December 2006 that it finally launched a series of 12 English books which included short stories and novels.

Jenny said the association had been working on establishing contacts, proofreading texts and looking for sponsorships before they could organise the first book launch for the dozen publications.

And six months later, the second book launch was held to introduce six new poetry books. Jenny said four of them were in bi-lingual texts as they were translated from classical Chinese poems; whereas the other two poetry books were purely the creations of the writers.

As the ASM is focusing on poetry this year, Jenny told the Macau Daily Times that it was hoped six more books could be launched in December.

Sponsorships needed

Although their publications are available for sales in a few local book shops, Jenny explained that sponsorships were mostly needed before the books were to appear on the shelves.

Being a non-profit association, she admitted that the biggest challenge was to acquire an adequate fund to finance the expenses of printing.

“Fortunately we’re able to survive so far with the support of the cultural department and revenue from advanced subscriptions,” she laughed.

With the limited budget on publishing, books are restricted to below 100 pages.

However, the ASM still insists on giving away every publication to local Chinese and Portuguese schools, as well as libraries in places such as Australia, the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

“We just really want to promote books written by Macau writers to more people internationally and get them involved,” Jenny said.

The ASM is still in its infancy with around 10 executive members.

Jenny said while most of them are freelance writers who have full time jobs, mainly as teachers and translators, they are still able to contribute to the association by helping with design, printing, and other administrative workloads.

As president of the association, Jenny does not have a full time job. Instead, she enjoys having a few casual jobs such as being an English teacher and a translator.

She writes both poems and stories. She said the most interesting part in her writing life was the process of developing ideas, and the challenge of being able to come up with simple phrases and words when writing children’s stories.

The ASM’s upcoming event will be a story telling session at the United International College in China’s Zhuhai city next month.

Jenny said the association aimed at people of different ages. The only condition was that, once again, a person must be in love with writing or reading books.


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