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,
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