Lost Luggage

Introduction to the international writing contest

Graphic by Bram Keast

My decision to organize “Lost Luggage,” a travel writing contest between students at the University of Manitoba and City University of Hong Kong, came out of two preoccupations: one scholarly and the other personal.

First, as someone who teaches and writes on the subject, I was curious about how students in Winnipeg and Hong Kong approached the central themes of travel writing. How did the authors describe people they met while away? What motivated their trips in the first place? I was particularly interested in how the participants’ sense of having a placed self – of having an identity grounded in a region, city, or community – was troubled or expanded by travel.

Second, I looked to this project to get perspective on my own experiences as a tourist. My wife grew up in Hong Kong, and over the past ten years I have spent a lot of time there. I’ve learned a lot about this fascinating, difficult city, but have done so from the position of an outsider, though one with lots of connections. I wanted to learn how people from Hong Kong feel when they are tourists – maybe to ease my anxieties about the limitations of my own touristic knowledge.

I was very pleased with this year’s “Lost Luggage” entries, which span a range of literary registers, from memoir to fiction. I have tentatively become aware of differences between the two groups of contributors: while authors from Winnipeg write about travel in a way that is more abstract and prone to fictionalizing, for Hong Kong students travel is more directly political, particularly when it takes them to mainland China.

Two entries were chosen as the winners of “Lost Luggage” 2015. The City University of Hong Kong winner is Maya Shuchang Yu, who is in her final year in the English department. The University of Manitoba winner is K.R. Morgan, an Honours student in English, Film, and Theatre.

I hope readers will enjoy all of this year’s submissions and encourage everyone to look for a new round of submissions next year.

Lucas Tromly, organizer of the “Lost Luggage” travel writing contest held over the 2015 winter term, is an associate professor in the department of English, film, and theatre at the University of Manitoba

The smog: http://www.themanitoban.com/2015/07/the-smog/23933/

Business as usual: http://www.themanitoban.com/2015/07/business-as-usual/23926/