Cultural compass: the habits of Chinese people

Having read this bullet list on Douban about the characteristics of Chinese people, I cannot resist writing a post on this. After all, I do agree with a lot of the observations, some of which I take the liberty to share here: 52. Enjoy giving mooncakes as presents, as well as eating them. 57. In a…

Carl Randall at Daiwa Foundation House: the artist as outsider

In his conversation with Andrew Stahl from The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL at Daiwa Foundation House on Thursday, Carl Randall explained how his meticulous paintings evolved from a simple sketch. It might originate from some movements or people’s facial expressions that intrigued him, and then he would make a few quick sketches on the…

Goldfish reviewed in Magma Poetry – Multiple Sides of Everything

Matt Merritt has reviewed Goldfish alongside two other poetry books – Pretty by Ahren Warner (Bloodaxe Books 2013) and Selected Poems by Peter Hughes (Shearsman Books 2013) – in the current issue of Magma Poetry (Issue 57) edited by Ian McEwen and Hannah Lowe. Below is an excerpt: It takes a little time in this lengthy second collection…

‘Give’ by Simon Armitage

I’ve reread this poem and am startled by the building-up of suspense and surprise in it. It’s aptly entitled ‘Give’ not ‘Giving’, the verb insistent and almost pleading. Beginning with ‘of all the public places, dear / To make a scene, I’ve chosen here’, it makes the reader rather uneasy about what will happen next,…

where grows creativity, in wilderness?

Food for thought at the upcoming discussion in Hong Kong Literary Festival on 11 October, 7.30pm, Dr Hari Harilela Lecture Theatre (Shaw Campus) Baptist University. Simon Armitage (author of many collections including Seeing Stars by Faber and Faber), Prof Daniel Chua (Head of School of Humanities, HKU), Prof Lo Kwai Cheung (Professor, Department of English Language and…

Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick: catching the power of world talent

Heatherwick has once again shown what imagination is capable of. Each athlete, each matchstick of talent, shines in the dark. A meeting of world talent in the stadium. A glimpse of the energy that fuels the progress of civilisation. This is how we build a cauldron of fire. A spectacular moment to share. To conceal…

Poem reprint of Queen’s Pier Central (from Summer Cicadas) on Apple Daily

前 AO與諾獎得主同台 港產女詩人 倫敦詠奧運 2012年04月29日 【本報訊】 200位來自世界各地的詩人,包括 95年的諾貝爾文學獎得主、愛爾蘭詩人 Seamus Heaney,將會在 6月下旬及 7月中在泰晤士河畔的倫敦文化地標「南岸中心」以詩會友,向來自英國及世界各國乘奧運之慶,遠赴倫敦的旅客朗誦自己的作品。這 200名詩人是透過公眾提名、投票及專家評分而選出,當中包括香港土生土長,用英文創作的王詠思。 記者:黎穎詩 AO女詩人 倫奧唱好香港 其他要聞港聞影片 AO女詩人 倫奧唱好香港 這個英國文化界盛會是倫敦 2012奧運會的其中一個重要文化活動,為了慶祝奧運會的來臨,及提醒世人奧運提倡的多元文化。 「我會寫一首關於香港嘅詩,可能會包括大牌檔、天星小輪、皇后碼頭,其實呢啲陪住我大嘅嘢,一直都係我創作嘅靈感,家仲同主辦單位商量緊可唔可以加入音樂。我有一個朋友、亦係香港人,家住喺倫敦,佢係作曲家,我想請佢寫一首音樂,到時可以係一個詩同鋼琴嘅表演。」主辦機構會在活動結束後,把 200位詩人為活動而寫的詩編集出版。 對於大部份香港人,王詠思是個陌生的名字,不過她在香港詩壇一直很活躍。她於 06年出版第一本詩集,這詩集得到藝術發展局資助宣傳。詩的內容包括一個人在英國生活的點滴,及香港人熟悉的場景,如小孩在皇后碼頭旁,吃着從雪糕車買回來的軟雪糕。 王詠思擁有令人羨慕的背景,在女拔萃讀中學、拿獎學金到牛津大學主修英文,畢業後成為政務官( AO)。不過,當了五年 AO後,她決定放棄薪高糧準、優越安逸的生活。「喺政府做,大家覺得派去政策局係最好嘅;我反而鍾意喺地區做嘢,我鍾意有機會接觸唔同巿民,同佢哋交流好開心。」 搬到倫敦 專注創作 放大圖片 王詠思詩集。 王曾在私人機構任職,五年前決重返校園,到英國進修寫作,之後大部份時間住在倫敦,以寫作、編輯及繙譯維生。自搬到倫敦後,王有超過 20多首詩作在不同文學期刊刊登。她正在籌備第二本詩集,這本詩集很可能在倫敦發佈。 王在 Tate藝術館的藝術雜誌當義工,她提議藝術館結合藝術品和詩,邀請詩人用藝術品做藍本創作詩。她的提議成為藝術館一個常規節目,她說嘗試不同的工作,是希望豐富自己的經歷,為文學創作製造多些靈感。 這個學期,嶺南大學英文系邀請她成為駐校作家,她亦教授嶺南的學生用英文寫詩。王詠思會在下月返倫敦。對於她,香港和倫敦都是家。 「喺香港,如果你只做兼職、等自己可以專注藝術創作,啲人會覺得你好怪,你會面對好大嘅社會壓力,因為大家都覺得你應該有份正職,做銀行、做律師,然後買樓、買車。喺倫敦,無人會覺得我怪,因為呢度用呢種方式生活嘅群體有幾萬、甚至幾十萬人。我都想生活穩定啲,搵多啲錢,但我想繼續目前嘅生活方式,可以有機會學習西方文化、多啲經歷、機會去嘗試不同嘅創作方法。」 「喺香港買本詩集都難」 放大圖片 倫敦文化地標「南岸中心」。 「除咗社會壓力外,英國真係好重視文化,搞個奧運都有各種文化活動。喺英國啲機會又真係多好多:有超過 300本專門講詩嘅雜誌,南岸中心有一個收集咗所有同詩有關嘅宣傳品、書同雜誌,我唔知香港有咗西九文娛藝術區之後,文學藝術創作嘅環境會唔會好啲,不過家喺書店要買一本詩集都唔易。」王補充,要有良好創作環境,每個人都有責任,父母鼓勵及支持更不可少。 對王詠思而言,獲邀參加為奧運而辦的文學活動,除了是個肯定,及與來自世界各地詩人交流的機會外,最珍貴是可以通過詩向其他人介紹香港:「用人哋嘅語言表達自己嘅文化係種釋放,亦可以令多啲人明白我哋嘅文化。」 這文化包括香港、亦包括中國文化:「雖然我哋覺得自己同大陸好唔同,但其他人睇起上嚟我哋嘅飲食習慣、生活方式同文化分別其實唔大。我覺得做港人好好,可以有兩個文化根源,就係香港嘅根同中國文化嘅根。」 Queen’s Pier Central 中環皇后碼頭 王詠思 Outside Queen’s Pier Central Floated a merry rhyme. A…

Vikram Seth’s Three Chinese Poets

I’ve been reading Vikram Seth’s Three Chinese Poets (1992) by HarperPerennial, which includes poems by Li Bai, Du Fu and Wang Wei. His translation of these Tang verse is superior to other versions I’ve read: there is more clarity in rendering the imagery, and more attention to the rhythm of lines. However, as in the…

Anton Chekov’s short stories in audio

Recently I came across a set of audio CDs on Anton Chekov’s short stories translated by Constance Garnett. It’s a pleasure to listen to these Russian classics in the cosy home environment. Read by Russian-born Max Bollinger – who pioneered the audio book collection and a former actor and producer – they form part of…

Arts in Richmond – Part 1

I have newly become member of the Arts Richmond Society. Impressed by the range of cultural activities they organise – book picnic with Colin Thurbron, the President of the Royal Literature Society, or a talk by David Attenborough, as examples – I filled in my membership form, sent it in by post, and in a…