[EXCLUSIVE] “Mild Trypophobia” (Saturday 8 August 2020) by Chris Song, translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

[Chris Song’s Mobile Diary]

Mild Trypophobia
by Chris Song, translated from the Chinese by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

{{{ Hong Kong—Saturday 8 August 2020 }}}

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases today: 69. This afternoon in Central, walking past H Queen’s, the eye-catching tower dedicated to art and lifestyle, I wondered: how are Hong Kong’s international art galleries doing during the pandemic? I once organised a talk on Dadaism and poetry at the Hauser & Wirth gallery, but it’s not open today. Before the outbreak, all the galleries in the tower were open to the public on Saturdays. But the security guard on the ground floor said only two galleries were open today, due to the coronavirus outbreak. We decided to have a look at those two. The receptionist’s mind was elsewhere; she was listless, her head lowered. We were the only visitors…

We saw works by the famed Japanese modern artist Kusama Yayoi. However, because I have mild trypophobia, I felt nervous looking at her pieces that feature intensive patterns. I turned to Andy Warhol’s portrait of Jane Fonda instead. Also on exhibition was some contemporary Chinese art. Many of the items seemed overly mystical, and they didn’t speak to me much, so we didn’t stay long. On the street again, Queen’s Road Central, near empty on a Saturday, was a desolate sight; those avant garde dot art pieces of Kusama Yayoi’s, with their concentrated patterns, seemed to be the only place where things were in close proximity to one another…

On the Central and Western District Promenade, a middle-aged woman put her palms together and bowed in the direction of Victoria Harbour. I couldn’t see the expression on her masked face. There’s only seawater in the harbour, and, on the other side, the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier and lanky high-rises. True, the harbour view was spectacular, but why bow to it, as though praying? Ting said that maybe a relative of the woman’s was buried in the harbour. Hearing this, I felt a sudden sadness, but at the same time, I felt the warmth of this world…


今天香港69宗新冠肺炎確診病例。禮拜六下午走過中環皇后大道中,剛好經過H Queen’s,不知疫情時期開設在香港的國際畫廊情況如何?我曾在Hauser&Wirth做過關於達達主義與詩歌的講座,但是它今天沒有開。以往禮拜六這座大廈的畫廊全部都開放,但是樓下保安說,由於疫情關係,今天只有兩家畫廊開放。我們上去參觀,坐在接待處的職員都無精打采地低著頭,我們是這兩家畫廊僅有的觀者⋯⋯



Shek Kip Mei_by Oliver Farry

Mild Trypophobia

How to cite: Song, Chris. “Mild Trypophobia.” Translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 8 Aug. 2020, chajournal.blog/2020/08/08/trypophobia/.


chris copy (1)Chris Song (author) is a poet, translator and editor based in Hong Kong. He has published four collections of poetry and many volumes of poetry in translation. Chris received an “Extraordinary Mention” at Italy’s UNESCO-recognized Nosside World Poetry Prize 2013 and the Young Artist Award at the 2017 Hong Kong Arts Development Awards. In 2018 he obtained a PhD in Translation Studies from Lingnan University. More recently he won Haizi Poetry Award in 2019. Chris is currently Editor-in-Chief of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine and Executive Director of the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong

tammy-lai-ming-hoTammy Lai-Ming Ho (translator) is the founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, an editor of the academic journals Victorian Network and Hong Kong Studies, and the first English-language Editor of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. She is an Associate Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama. She is also the President of PEN Hong Kong, a Junior Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, an advisor to the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, and an Associate Director of One City One Book Hong Kong. Tammy’s first collection of poetry is Hula Hooping (Chameleon 2015), for which she won the Young Artist Award in Literary Arts from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Her first short story collection Her Name Upon The Strand (Delere Press), her second poetry collection Too Too Too Too (Math Paper Press) and chapbook An Extraterrestrial in Hong Kong (Musical Stone) were published in 2018. Her first academic book is Neo-Victorian Cannibalism (Palgrave, 2019). Tammy edited or co-edited a number of literary volumes having a strong focus on Hong Kong, the most recent one being Twin Cities: An Anthology of Twin Cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong (Landmark Books, 2017). She guest-edited a Hong Kong Feature for World Literature Today (Spring 2019), the Hong Kong special issue of Svenska PEN’s PEN/Opp, and an e-chapbook of Hong Kong poetry published by Cordite Publishing. Tammy is also a translator and her literary translations can be found in World Literature TodayChinese Literature TodayPathlight: New Chinese Writing, among other places, and International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong volumes (2015, 2017 and 2019). Her own poems have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latvian, and Vietnamese. She is currently co-editing several academic volumes in addition to 2020: A Bilingual Anthology of Hong Kong Poetry.

(Header photograph © Oliver Farry.)

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