Department of English Language and Literature
Marvels of a city evoked in poetry
Louise Ho, a Hong Kong-born poet who writes in English, describes one of her goals as the creation of ‘a space where the English literary language expresses as well as is incorporated into the local ethos, thus becoming almost a tertium quid, but which remains at the same time definitely English’. What Ho wishes to do in her poetry is to use English in such a way that it is both a tool to express Hong Kong experience and history, but at the same time it can be ‘incorporated into the local ethos’, in other words, made into Hong Kong, creating a third space that is neither entirely English nor entirely Chinese.
Starting from this discussion, the talk looks at the different ways non-English native Hong Kong poets incorporate foreign elements, including language, form and thought, into ‘the local ethos’ of Hong Kong in their work. Aspects of interest are the appropriation of Western poetic forms, explicit references to Western writers in epigraphs or even the body of the texts, reworking and transposing lines from Western poems to suit the Hong Kong cultural and political context, and creative misreading and aggressive erasure of Western texts. The talk then reads the poetry of the Hong Kong poet Nicholas Wong, winner of Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2015 with his second poetry Collection Crevasse, as a case study. Looking at the haiku sequence at the end of Crevasse, which is an erasure of letters between James Schuyler and Frank O’Hara, his long Occupy Central poem, and a few others, this section investigates how Western literature and culture are incorporated into the expression of a unique Hong Kong identity filtered through gender politics, bilingualism, cultural production and Hong Kong-China relations. The talks ends with a reflection on the impossibility of fabricating a coherent narrative about Hong Kong, and the potential strengths and lamentations of this reality.
Source Publication Title
International EFL Conference for Creative Writing Instruction = 英語創意寫作教學研討會
Link to Publisher's Edition
Ho, Tammy Lai-Ming. "Marvels of a city evoked in poetry." International EFL Conference for Creative Writing Instruction = 英語創意寫作教學研討會 (2017).