In the April session of Kubrick Poetry, Madeleine Marie Slavick shared her latest book Fifty Stories and Fifty Images. The significance of the book was immediately apparent early in our discussion as Madeleine revealed that she would be leaving Hong Kong in the very near future, and would be away for several years. So the book is her gift to Hong Kong and to her friends in this city where she has lived longer than any other place.
Madeleine read “Bak Lan” and “Neighbors,” stories that depict the lives of ordinary people -- like children, grandmother, a person selling flowers, etc -- whose existence makes her reflect and rejoice. In her stories we taste congee, smell incense, and feel the closeness to the others whose lives are happening in the same building, somewhere very close to us, or in places we often overlook. She also shared stories like “Block 15” and “Ginger Lily” that depict unexpected incidents that can happen even in places that are familiar to us.
Friends talked about how delightful it has been to receive a Madeleine story by email every now and then. They appreciate Madeleine’s genuine storytelling voice. Madeleine herself emphasized the importance of using simple language that the reader can easily understand and relate.
She brought her own slide projector to show us some of the photographs from the book. Some images were taken from places in Hong Kong where she lived. She is particularly interested in abstract photography.
One line from the story “Wordless” really resonates: “I try not to take more power than anyone else”. This sentiment really captures Madeleine’s tender relationship with the people of Hong Kong and her sensitivity toward those whose first-language is not English.
We send our best wishes to Madeleine as she embarks on a journey away from Hong Kong where she will no doubt continue take pictures and write stories.
(photos by Paul Wan)