[EXCLUSIVE] “Every Lovely Little Thing” (Tuesday 25 August 2020) by Chris Song, translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

[Chris Song’s Mobile Diary]

Every Lovely Little Thing
by Chris Song, translated from the Chinese by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

{{{ Hong Kong—Tuesday 25 August 2020 }}}

Nineteen confirmed Covid cases today in Hong Kong. The lunchtime news reported that pandemic measures would be eased this Friday. Among the measures, the most welcome must be the reopening of cinemas. Many friends are already thinking about which film to see that day. But cinemas have yet released their listings, so we can only check online to see if there are any updates. The news about the relaxation came rather unexpectedly, and even if the film listings were ready, I imagine the choices would be limited. Hong Kong is no doubt one of the most film-loving cities in the world. I remember at the start of the first wave, we were all very apprehensive about Covid. The cinemas were not affected by preventive measures then and some film-lovers still went to the pictures. Some friends were saying, “You ask what true love is? This is true love… ” Now, amid the third wave of Covid, cinemas have been closed for nearly two months. I don’t know how well film fans are holding up…

Double Seventh Festival is meant to be romantic but since Covid measures are still largely in place, we could only go to have tea. Pacific Place was full of people and many restaurants have reopened. We went to one—the place was small enough and customers sparse. There was only one tea set left and the cakes in the display cabinet were nearly all gone. The restaurant was doing decent business during the pandemic, and we could have a taste of daily normality—all thanks to the love festival. The world is terrible now, and every lovely little thing should be treasured…  

How to create meaning out of meaninglessness is an important subject during the pandemic. I once stayed briefly in a village in Australia and I loved the quiet, windless evenings. There was absolutely no noise at all. Now, living in the city centre, there are all sorts of subtle sounds even in the middle of the night. Because of Covid, I’m staying at home more, and different noises come to my attention. Sometimes I think noise is devoid of meaning. We can still create meaning out of it, however, even though the process might not be easy. One night, I translated a poem by George Szirtes about noise, and it’s very romantic: “Quiet. Quiet down. More silence until / things heard build a shared world. / Friction between noise and meaning / disappears in the irregular pauses. // This is the most peaceful music, you and I / gently fade into and fade out of each other’s chiming voice, saying / the name that once held power: I towards you, / you towards me, together we dance mid-air.” …

今天香港19宗新冠肺炎確診病例。中午看到消息,抗疫措施將於禮拜五有所放寬。在眾多放寬的措施中,最受歡迎的一項也許是戲院重開,很多朋友都立刻盤算那天去看什麼電影。可是戲院的排片仍未出爐,大家都只能時不時查看網站是否有所更新。措施放寬的消息宣布得有點突然,即使排片出爐,想必選擇也不多吧。香港無疑是世界上最熱衷於電影的城市之一。記得幾個月前的那一波疫情到來時,大家都非常緊張,電影院還未受到嚴格的限制,那時仍有影迷去看電影。那時有朋友感嘆:「你問我什麼是真愛?這就是真愛了⋯⋯」這一波疫情令戲院停業接近兩個月,不知這班影迷都已經憋到了什麼程度了⋯⋯

七夕是一個浪漫的日子,各種抗疫措施仍未放寬,於是我們便去吃下午茶。太古廣場人來人往,許多餐廳已經重開。我們到了餐廳之後,雖然地方不大,客人也不多,但是下午茶套餐只剩下一人份,櫥櫃裏的蛋糕也賣得七七八八。在疫情時期,這家餐廳的生意算是很不錯了,而我們也能稍微淺嚐日子恢復正常的滋味,這一切都有賴七夕。世界的確不如意,而當中的美好是何其珍貴啊⋯⋯

如何從無意義中創造意義,是疫情時期的一大命題。以前過去澳洲鄉村駐留,很喜歡夜晚風止時的寧靜,真是一點噪音都沒有。現在居住在市中心,即使到了深夜,仍會聽到各種細微的噪音。疫情時期,在家的時間多了,同時也聽到不同的噪音。有時候覺得噪音毫無意義,但是就連噪音我們也可以用來創造意義,雖然這個過程極其困難。晚上翻譯英國詩人喬治.澤提斯的詩作,有一首關於噪音的詩何其浪漫啊:「靜一靜。靜下來。再靜一點。直到 / 聆聽的事物組成一個共同的世界 / 噪音和意義之間發生的摩擦 / 消失於不規律的頓挫之間。// 這就是最安靜的音樂,你我 / 在彼此的伴奏中淡出淡入,說出 / 曾經擁有力量的名字:我朝著你,/ 你朝著我,雙雙懸空起舞。」⋯⋯

Photograph by Oliver Farry

How to cite: Song, Chris. “Every Lovely Little Thing.” Translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 25 Oct. 2022, chajournal.blog/2022/10/25/lovely-little-thing/.

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Chris Song (author) is a poet, translator, editor, and scholar. 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 Assistant Professor at the Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough.

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Tammy Lai-Ming Ho (translator) is the Editor-in-Chief of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, an editor of the academic journal Hong Kong Studies, and the first English-language Editor of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. She is also a Junior Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities and an advisor to the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing. 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, including Voice & Verse 21/21 Anthology and 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).

(Header photograph © Oliver Farry.)

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