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Talking literature over a cup of tea
RAGINI BHUYAN  16th Feb 2013

A photo from Kevin Chang’s ‘Macau - People At Work’

This prestigious online literary journal, first published in 2007, has made a name for itself amidst the small but well-connected community of writers and poets who pursue their love of literature via the internet. Founded by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming and Jeff Zroback, Cha is named after the culture of tea houses and tea drinking followed in East Asia, an activity that parallels intellectual engagement. Featuring poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, photography and art, Cha is the first Hong-Kong based English online literary journal, and was also launched in Beijing in 2009 by Royston Tester, an erstwhile jury member for the Commonwealth Fiction Prize.  A quarterly magazine, Cha has sections with interesting titles. 'Lost Teas' offers fiction and non-fiction culled from other publications, while 'A Cup of Fine Tea' offers a literary critique of previously published poetry or fiction which is either in-house or procured from other sources. The critics are termed Tea Tasters while the works being dissected are referred to as 'cups of tea'. The latest in this section features a poem titled 'Suicide Note' by Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, which has been commented on by one of the founders, Tammy Ho. Cha keeps the buzz alive by organising contests from time to time. Their latest November 2012 issue features winning entries from a flash fiction contest centred on the theme of misinterpretation. Tom Mangione's winning entry, People are Fundamental, provides a glimpse of the urban Chinese working class within the framework of around 150 words, while Hema Raman's My Bhua is a pithy exploration of a daughter's longing for her mother's affections, juxtaposed with the material want in their lives. Under the photography section, do check out Kevin Chan's photo essay titled Macao — People At Work. These simple black and white iPhone photographs are evocative portraits of the working class, be it waiters, cooks, or cobblers.

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