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 In 2008, they set up the Proverse Prize for unpublished writing that is non-fiction, fiction or poetry.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