To Eastern Lands

To Eastern Lands is a collection of poetry, perhaps more accurately described as “verse”, which recounts many of the encounters and experiences that oriented the author to become deeply engaged in Asian issues, from the personal through to the cultural and political.  The verse is presented in four sections --- grammar school days, the time spent working as a journalist in India, information and insights gained while at university, and time spent on the diplomatic stage. 

Some of the verse is featured on this website, but this publication includes a considerable amount of material that has not previously been published.

To Eastern Lands also includes introductions by the Hon Neil Brown QC, a former Minister in the Australian government, and Mr. James A. Kelly, who was previously Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the US State Department.  The book also includes an Author’s Introduction, which provides a background to the writing of this verse, and the events that inspired and shaped his approach to Asia. 

This introduction also reveals that in fact John Byron was a pseudonym, as was hinted by the Italian journalist, Tiziano Terzani, in his review of The Claws of the Dragon, which is quoted in the “Background Dossier” at the beginning of the website.  The real person behind the John Byron pseudonym is Roger Uren, who began to use the pseudonym when he published his first book, The China Lovers, which he co-wrote with the British writer and journalist, David Bonavia.  He wrote under a pseudonym because at that time he was a diplomat, stationed in the Australian Embassy in Beijing.  The main reason he chose the name Byron was that the poet, Lord Byron, was the first major English writer to spend considerable time in oriental lands and to write about life in that different and exotic culture. 

Roger Uren remained a diplomat until 1993, when he transferred to Australia’s Office of National Assessments, and became the chief intelligence analyst handling East Asian issues.  He continued in that role, which also required that he use a pseudonym whenever he published any privately written material until 2001.  In that year he left government service and became the Vice President for International Affairs at Phoenix Satellite Television, a Hong Kong-based Mandarin Chinese television broadcaster.  He worked for Phoenix TV for over twelve years, living in Hong Kong, but often traveling to Beijing, Taiwan and other Asian cities, which underscored that he had not been diverted from the road to eastern lands.

To Eastern Lands was published in 2013 by Proverse Hong Kong, a publishing company which specializes in prose and poetry that has an Asian connection.

© John Byron - 2019