Ling Chung has bridged classical Chinese culture with modern western ways since she arrived in Hong Kong in 1977, with her then husband, filmmaker King Hu. The dean of the arts faculty of Hong Kong Baptist University is Asia's equivalent of Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder (both friends of hers), who borrowed from Asian culture to become pioneers of the Beat movement. Chung embodies much of Hong Kong's claim to fuse east and west. The city returned the favour by revealing itself to her through Somewhere in Time, the 1980 US film starring Christopher Reeve that has become a kitsch classic of sentimental love stories. 'At the beginning, I had the impression that Hong Kong was a commercial city and that people were money-minded,' she says. 'But Somewhere in Time was a full house for three months straight. It was a romantic story and Hong Kong people loved it. 'I think Hong Kong people are romantic by nature. But this aspect has been suppressed.' Chung's take on the movie is expanded on in her new book, Spring Rain on the Great Earth (Cosmos Books), a collection of 37 pieces - in Chinese - about everything from mainland politics to Lady, her deceased dog, and buying jade in Hong Kong. Chung depicts her changing bond with Snyder by recalling visits to the poet's California home since the 1970s. 'When I first wrote about Snyder in the 1970s, he was a hero,' she says. 'Later, I paid more attention to the human aspects.' As part of her PhD thesis, Chung visited Rexroth in 1970. They were friends until he died in 1982. On their first meeting, they translated Chinese poems together, which led to two books, Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China in 1972 and Li Ching-Chao, Complete Poems in 1979. 'Rexroth and Snyder are my models,' says Chung. 'I'm impressed by their openness towards different cultures and their belief that human beings are part of nature. 'Like them, I'm interested in other cultures. We're like-minded. They don't think humans are conquerors of nature. That's why, when they saw Chinese paintings - [in which] human beings are just small figures in nature - they liked them very much.' A number of her pieces discuss Hu, the director of A Touch of Zen, which was the first Putonghua production to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival. It also won the Grand Prix de la Commission superieure technique in 1975. He died in 1997, by which time the two had divorced. They had met when Hu gave a talk at the university where Chung was teaching in Albany, New York. 'Three days later, he called and said, 'Come with me',' she says. Chung agreed to follow him to Hong Kong. She helped write the script for Legend of the Mountain, based on a Sung dynasty story. The couple also wrote a book, Visiting Mountains, together. Spring Rain reveals the private side of a man who drank alcohol only when entertaining friends. On such occasions, he was always eager to make his guests laugh and keep the drinks flowing. Chung taught at the University of Hong Kong for seven years, before returning to Taiwan to care for her parents. She became the dean of the arts faculty of the National Sun Yat-sen University. Born in 1945 on the mainland, Chung grew up in Taiwan, as the daughter of the head of a navy school. She went to universities in Taiwan and the US, receiving her PhD from the University of Wisconsin. One of her English poems, A Soil with Rain and Sunshine is now in a textbook for US high school students. She has published 14 award-winning books of short stories, prose, poems and non-fiction. She was particularly attracted to the Song Dynasty (420-479 AD) poet Li Ching-Chao, who she regards as 'the greatest Chinese woman poet in history. Although the society in which she lived was conservative, Li was an intellectual. A sensitive and intelligent woman, she wrote mostly about her loneliness, making her a magnet for Chung, who enjoys examining the consciousness of women in Chinese history. She has rewritten classical Chinese tales from the female perspective, such as the famous story Ying Ying, and a series of poems on the lives of well-known beauties in Chinese history. Chung also writes about women in modern times. Her female characters often resist society's demands. 'Sex is part of life,' she says. 'I just want to write about women's feelings. I started writing about sex when I was in Hong Kong. There weren't many women writing about sex. The critics noticed, but didn't reject it - perhaps because I wrote it in the Chinese way, subtle and poetic.' Chung is now focused on promoting creativity through the International Writers Workshop in November and December. The workshop will be the largest of its kind in Asia. This year, the theme is post-colonial literature, with writing in Chinese or English from Africa, India, the mainland, Taiwan and the Caribbean.