Kubrick Poetry‧ May‧ In Conversation with the River

時間 Time:2010/5/30 (Sun) 5:00pm-6:00pm

地點 Venue: 油麻地 Kubrick(next to Broadway Cinemathèque, 3 Public Square St.)

主持 Moderators:Florence Ng、Polly Ho、Wong Wai Yim

詩人來賓 Guest Poet:Kit Kelen

In Conversation with the River is Christopher (Kit) Kelen's homage to the Chinese traditions in poetry. It is a philosophical as well as a chronological journey; its persistent backdrop is the daziran (great nature) of the Chinese tradition; its persistent concern is with the future of human relationships with an environment under ever greater strain.

Having lived in China for the last twelve years, Kelen has worked collaboratively on the translation of a range of classical poets, including Tao Yuanming, Meng Jiao, Xin Qiji, Li Yu, Nalan Xingde and many of the women poets of the Tang and Song Dynasties. Kelen has collaborated in the translation of a number of contemporary Chinese poets, including Yao Feng and Leung Ping Kwan. He has also - as a teacher of Creative Writing - mentored younger Chinese poets in the production of their first volumes of poetry, published usually as parallel text in Chinese and in English.

This is the second time for Kit Kelen to read at Kubrick. The reading is in English. You are welcome to bring your own poem to read or your favourite poem to share.

The Owl

(Polly Ho)

Having lived in Hong Kong since 1970, Gillian Bickley has recently concluded her more than 30 years of teaching in university as a teacher of English Literature. Currently, she dedicates her time on the independent press “Proverse Hong Kong” which she co-founded with her husband Verner Bickley. The name “Proverse” is a combination of “prose” and “verse”. In 2008, they set up the Proverse Prize for unpublished writing that is non-fiction, fiction or poetry. To allow more people to have the opportunity to publish their works, there is no nationality or residence restriction. Translation work are acceptable as long as there is English version.

How can Gillian manage to write poems among the tight schedule every day? She is a observant person with sharp eye and is able to see poetry at different corner. The trick is making note whenever she came across something interesting and put it in a folder called “poem to be written”. When she is away for summer holidays, she will take the whole folder with her and finish the poems in the holidays. So far she published four collections of poetry and they are the honest record of her life.

One of the interesting discussions is on the poem “Funeral Owl”. It is a poem written based on the experience crawling inside a Neolithic cairn in North-East Scotland in which she feels “nothing”. The feeling of “nothingness” surprises her as she expects some conscious communication from the people living thousands years ago when the cairn are constructed. Further, Florence asked why she choose a concrete name for a poem that is conveying the message of nothingness. Gillian responds that concrete image is easier to provoke imagination. Another participant enjoys Gillian’s reading simply listening to it for its sake.

Literature is an inseparable part of her life and career, yet, she has a very clear standpoint in viewing literature and life. To her, life experience is more important than literature. Can you not agree she has sharp eyes and clear mind?

(photos by Paul Wan)

To view Gillian’s writing of the reading, please visit: http://proversepublishing.com/gillian_bickley_reads_at_kubrick


A Melancholy Voice

(Polly Ho)

Do you believe there is a voice that always sings its melody to the world, a voice of truth and certainty? Rainer Maria Rilke heard this voice and wrote for three days “in a single breathless obedience”.

Wolfgang Kubin is a German Sinologist, poet and translator. He came to Hong Kong to teach at the Lingnan University for one semester in 2010. Being a widely-known Sinologist, he confesses that he doesn’t recognize himself as much as a Sinologist than a poet or translator or simply a scholar for the reason that most Sinologists don’t really “think”. How does he see China in the 21st century? To him, China is getting the attention only because of its economical strength but not of its culture influence and history.

Kubin is trying to understand the world by learning as many languages as possible, at least those countries he has visited. He is fluent in three languages: German, Mandarin and English. Fluency by definition is read and spoken comfortably and effectively. He taught himself other languages, including some ancient language like Greek, Hebrew, Latin and ancient Chinese. Ancient Chinese is one of the most difficult language to learn for him. Why it is important to learn a foreign language? “It’s a total different thinking pattern from one language system to another. When I am speaking German, my logical thinking is not the same when I am speaking Mandarin.”

Poetry doesn’t sell. It is not only true in Hong Kong but also true in Germany. Kubin said frankly that even his publisher urge him to write more essay than poetry. However, he insists on writing poem every morning as early as 5am. Strange enough, if he doesn’t write, he will fall ill that day. “I cannot write poem at night. I spend the whole day preparing for a poem in the next morning to write it down.” Kubin read his poetry in three languages: German, English and Mandarin. A poem speaks different melody in three different languages but his German reading is the most striking. It is the source voice, the melancholy voice. To him, poetry is the expression of melancholy. What is melancholy? It is not pure sorrow or sadness, but a deep understanding and consciousness of the sorrow of life.

(photos by Paul Wan)