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    Alumni Linkage — OU People

     

    Jenny and Pearl Poon have been literary writers for years. People call them the ‘Grimm Sisters’ as they are most famous for their children’s books. Their work covers a wide range of literary forms, while prose, poetry and drama pieces were mostly one-person endeavours, the rest – novels, fairy tales and picture books – were often co-authored. Beyond the sphere of writing, the two have developed some kind of bonding with the OUHK in their separate ways – one as a teacher and the other as a student. Both have done superbly.

     

    Alumna Pearl Poon (left) & former tutor Jenny Poon (right)

     

    Inspiration for writing everywhere

     

    The duo has collaborated since they were secondary school students. ‘We attended the same school. Pearl was at Secondary 4 and I was at Secondary 5. We moaned a lot about the public exams then and shared our feelings in the novel 籠中鼠 (Mouse in Cage), which fortunately scooped the championship in a writing competition,’ recalled Jenny. ‘That’s the first piece of work we co-authored and got published,’ Pearl added. Since then the two girls have embarked on the creative path of children’s literature and teamed up perfectly. ‘We hope we can write something that resonates with children,’ – a simple, straight-forward answer that says a lot about the tacit understanding between the sisters.

    Despite years of writing, they have never failed to find new inspiration. ‘As long as there’s a pair of observant eyes and the heart of a child, inspiration is everywhere,’ said Jenny heartily. The experience of five siblings while growing up, and relationships with sons and daughters as well as students, are all inspirations for stories. Pearl agreed that interaction with children around had made her remain childlike at heart and become increasingly interested in literary exploration across space and time. ‘When I go back to the past to visit my childhood, I talk to myself and gain many new perspectives,’ she echoed.

     

    Their creative path has encompassed different eras. With their sharp observation, the two have come up with pieces of work that stay close to the present and breathe in sync with the new generation of children. Times have changed, but the heart of a child is always the same. ‘Although our society and lifestyle are very different from the past, children are always curious and adventurous and they yearn for love, no matter in which era we live.’

     

    Spreading positive energy through literature promotion

     

     

    The two veteran authors have written for children for years. They believe that ‘a good book is an excellent companion, but a bad book is a robber’. So they choose their topics with caution and use the elements of ‘truth, goodness, beauty and love’ as their creative guidelines. ‘In my daily life, I love to embrace good people and good deeds. In writing, I hope to give readers positive energy,’ said Jenny. In addition to using words to spread positive energy, they have gone to school campuses and libraries to promote writing and reading. ‘It’s advisable to start reading children's literature from paper books, and we can include parent-child games and small-scale theatre activities to give kids some hands-on experience. Just reading from a computer screen is rather lonely,’ said Pearl.

     

    The duo has never slowed down in their promotion of literature. Right now they are planning an activity titled Strolling through the Literature Path for the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research. ‘Inspired by renowned author and outstanding educator Xiao Si (Prof. Lo Wai-luen), we bring the concept of “literary walk” into primary schools. This is a first for Hong Kong. We take children to literary attractions where they can look, read and write at the same time,’ they said enthusiastically. Their passion has remained strong after all these years.

     

    Mutual respect for creative companion

     


     

    The Poon sisters have walked alongside each other on their literary path. Each one is an author in her own right, with her own characteristics. Jenny admires her sister's keen sensitivity and unique perspective. She especially loves Pearl’s essay collection 日本構圖 (A Sketch of Japan). ‘She recorded what she had seen while studying in Japan, such as the youth mindset and cultural shocks. While there are personal views, the book also has an international perspective,’ Jenny said. Pearl pointed out that her sister got inspiration for writing mostly from her daily life, teaching and family, and she was good at portraying the inner world of spirit and soul as well as delicate emotions. Her favourite is an anthology of Jenny’s poems titled 當我們在一起 (When We were Together). ‘It has a rich taste of life, and poem 路的啟示 (Revelation of Road) is often a selected piece for schools speech festivals,’ Pearl said. The pair has also promoted children's literature across the region and co-edited 大自然禮贊──亞洲童詩選 (Salute to Nature – Asian Children's Poetry Selection ), a collection of Asian and Chinese poetry with beautiful pictures for the Asian Children's Literature Convention.

     

    Making friends from far and wide at the OUHK

     

     

    Their mutual association with the OUHK was unintentional. Jenny had been invited by a friend to serve as a guest speaker in a class before she became a part-time tutor in 2000. Since then she had taught courses on Chinese language and education, and received a long service award in 2010. Pearl, who loves studying, was interested in getting a master’s degree after completing her undergraduate programme in Japan. Coincidentally, she found some favourite courses during her visit to the OUHK on its InfoDay and learnt that the programme schedule was quite flexible. This suited her needs well and she obtained her Master of Education degree in 2006.

     

    Regardless of teaching or studying, both of them found the human touch at the OUHK most memorable. ‘I’m glad to have met so many fellow students who came from numerous places and professions,’ said Pearl joyfully. Jenny had taught at the OUHK for years and her students had various backgrounds and stories. ‘I encourage students to attend tutorials and make new friends. If you do not study alone, you will be more enthusiastic about learning and make good grades,’ she said. 

     

    Maintained by: Public Affairs Unit ( pau@ouhk.edu.hk )
    Modified Date: Jul 15, 2020

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