The British Empire Library


Moving House And Other Poems From Hong Kong: With an Essay on New Hong Kong English Language Poetry

And

For The Record And Other Poems Of Hong Kong

by Gillian Bickley


Courtesy of OSPA


Ian Wotherspoon (Western Pacific 1969-78, Hong Kong 1979-97, Edinburgh University)
Both books are published by Proverse Hong Kong in 2005 and 2003 respectively and are also available from The Chinese University Press, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong.

The British imperial world was no stranger to poetry and verse. From Rudyard Kipling's evocation of the dawn coming up "like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay" to Stella Freegard's wistful memories of the "blues, the greens and the aquamarines" of the Western Pacific Islands, poets have celebrated the distinctiveness and diversity of an Empire on which the sun never set.

As an expatriate academic, writing in the English language of her experiences in a colony that was always really part of China, Dr. Bickley's poetry could have been cast in the syrupy, expatriate focused genre that recalled happy times "when we lived in Hong Kong". She does indeed recall the past but her work is fresh, insightful and in rhythm with the sensitivities of a community passing through a period of political and social change. More significantly, it is an important contribution to the evolution of cross-cultural poetry in, and about, Hong Kong.

Whilst some of her reflective pieces are thought provoking, even challenging, she is perhaps at her best in describing people and commonplace events in Hong Kong. The description of her journey to work, and fellow passengers, will be familiar to veterans of Hong Kong's public transport system -

"A big city gent is picking his nose.
An airhostess paints her long red nails...
Small boys revise their homework.
Little girls flirt with their neighbours."

Listening to the shrewd advice of a fortune teller, she concludes that Tai Wai Temple is -

"Not a bad place to take
your adolescent sons and daughters,
when they
won't listen to you."

She paints a rich and textured canvas. Rain captures a squatter village after a downpour. Moon-Shine contrasts the glowing lights of the city with the moon peeping between a corridor of high-rise buildings. After meeting an old couple in a public hospital, the tender Language Lessons speaks of shared humility and humanity. Graduation celebrates the young people who will help shape Hong Kong's future.

Dr Bickley will rekindle memories for many who lived in Hong Kong; crowded streets and concrete; ferries and flower markets; the Peak and paddy fields; trams and temple bells - and, of course, the remarkable Chinese people who live in this special place.

British Empire Book
Author
Gillian Bickley
Published
2005
Pages
130
Publisher
Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society
ISBN
978 962 85570 5 9
Availability
Abebooks
Amazon
British Empire Book
Author
Gillian Bickley
Published
2005
Pages
118
Publisher
Proverse Hong Kong
ISBN
962 85570 2 5
Availability
Abebooks
Amazon


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