As a teenager stuck in Hong Kong’s pressure-cooker school system, Eric Yip found his escape in writing poetry — never dreaming that one day his work would go on to win a top prize halfway across the world. In March, at the age of 19, he became the youngest ever winner of the United Kingdom’s National Poetry Competition.

He beat more than 7,000 contenders from 100 countries and placed himself squarely among a cohort of Hong Kong poets writing in English that has found increasing recognition over the past decade. Now an economics undergraduate at Cambridge, Yip recalled the “liberating” feeling of reading material that had nothing to do with high-school English classes taught according to a strict syllabus.

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