Sebastian Veg: Putting Hong Kong’s New Cultural Activism on the Literary Map

200Sebastian Veg’s review essay of City at the End of Time: Poems by Leung Ping-Kwan 梁秉鈞 (edited by Esther Cheung) and Dung Kai-cheung’s 董啟章 Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City (translated by the author with Bonnie McDougall and Anders Hansson), titled “Putting Hong Kong’s New Cultural Activism on the Literary Map,” has been published by the MCLC. Here’s how it ends:200

the images of Hong Kong that emerge from these two collections are similar: far from the Cantonese patriotism of kung-fu films or the proudly apolitical but hugely successful taipans and tycoons of the business world, here the everyday experience and the successive reinventions of a many-layered postcolonial history are what define a new sense of belonging to Hong Kong. Both writers engage in soul-searching about the marginal position of the city, about investing with meaning a place that is not and does not aspire to become a nation-state, a place that identifies with aspects of Chinese culture but that has always cultivated its distinct “southern” difference. In these and other ways, these two writers are harbingers, not only of the emerging local sensibility that is beginning to find its translation into social movements and debates, but also of a new way of thinking about the relation between national and cultural identity, about colonial memories and postcolonial nostalgia that questions many of our assumptions about the position of the contemporary writer.

City at the End of Time Book Talk & Poetry Reading

You are cordially invited to the book launch of City at the End of Time: Poems of Leung Ping-kwan (2012) to witness how poetry is in the making at the beginning of time. In this event, Prof. Leo Lee 李歐梵 and Dr. Sebastian Veg will join Prof. P. K. Leung 梁秉鈞 / 也斯 (author) and Dr. Esther Cheung 張美君 (editor) to discuss their book. Following the book talk, there will be a session of poetry reading and performances jointly presented by Prof. Leung and HKU students. They will recite Prof. Leung’s poems multi-lingually, present the poems visually through images, as well as render his poems through music or other artistic forms. Students will also bring their own poems to dialogue with Prof. Leung. Date: Nov 7, 2012 (Wed) Time: 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Venue: LE9 (Library Extension in the Main Campus)
Speakers: Prof. Leo Ou-fan Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dr. Sebastian Veg, The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC)
Prof. P. K. Leung (author), Lingnan University
Dr. Esther Cheung (editor), University of Hong Kong
Moderator: Dr. Winnie Yee, University of Hong Kong

* The event will be conducted in English.

About the Book City at the End of Time: Poems by Leung Ping-kwan (Hong Kong University Press 2012), Edited and introduced by Esther M.K. Cheung:
This book brings back into print 40 bilingual poems from one of Hong Kong’s most beloved literary figures, together with critical introductions by Esther M.K. Cheung and Ackbar Abbas. Through poetry, Leung Ping-kwan, more often known as Ye Si, looks at the complex everyday life in the city, contemplates and reflects upon history, culture, identity, and the passing of time. The poet also goes beyond Hong Kong and explores the relationship between poetry and other media in a cross-border and cross-cultural context. Originally published in 1992, this expanded work includes a 2011 conversation with the poet and several local literary figures. Click here for details.

All are welcome!