Whither Hong Kong? A Preface

In early July, we sent out a call for poems about the Chinese Government’s White Paper on the “One Country, Two Systems” principle in Hong Kong. At the time, the publication of the paper, which formally precluded true democracy within the city, felt like a watershed moment in Hong Kong history and one that we wanted, in our own small way, to capture in the journal.Β 

What we couldn’t have foreseen was how the White Paper would lead to subsequent events in the city, especially the Umbrella Revolution. None of us could have imagined how protest sites would blossom on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon or how determined the protesters would be in face of government resistance. Nor could we have foreseen how the protests would leave their mark on the city: the β€˜Lennon Wall’ at Civic Square and it’s tapestry of post-its showing how voices are many and one; a solitary yellow umbrella on an Admiralty stage; banners with the words of Lu Xun draped from footbridges.
It is within this context that we launch this special feature, which will hopefully serve as a record of our collective desire for democracy. The poems curated here are as much about the experiences of the Occupy movement and the ‘on-the-ground’ protests as they are about the original White Paper. They capture the emotions, reflections and hopes of people living in Hong Kong at this historic moment. This collection is perhaps another “wall” of post-its, reminding us of how the passion for poetry resonates strongly with the passion for freedom and democracy.Β 
Poets featured: Kit Fan, Mary Jean Chan, Jason S Polley, Wendy Gan, Andrew S. Guthrie, Ruth Lee, Aaron Chan, Stephanie Han, Peter Gordon, Antony Huen, Natalie Liu, Marco Yan, Emily Cheung, Henry W. LeungΒ 
(Pictured above: “試問θͺ°ι‚„ζœͺ發聲”, seen on the campus of Hong Kong Baptist University. Photo by Jason S Polley. Friday 24 October, 2014.)

Call for Submissions: "Hong Kong Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon"

Pictured: Hong Kong Column – Translated (http://facebook.com/hkcolumn)

Cha is seeking entries on the theme “Hong Kong Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon” in response to the Chinese Government’s White Paper (click here for more information) to be included in a special section in the journal.

Submission period
20th June (Fri.) – 30th September (Tue.)

Editors of the section
-Tammy Ho Lai-Ming [bio]
-Michael O’Sullivan [bio]Β 
-Kate Rogers [bio]

-Michael Tsang [bio]

Please send submissions to t@asiancha.com by 30th September with the subject line “White Paperβ€”your name”. Each writer can submit up to two poems.

A Polite People

First they took their land, then their fish, then their trolleys
After it was their backs, then their loins,
Then their rented apartments, their shacks, their rusting bicycles
In the end all they had was chicken gristle, chickens feet,
And dung lai chas.
Still they waited and said it wouldn’t be polite.

Then they started on their voices,
They took their tones, their gutturals, their
Argumentative low tones, their cackling old woman’s laugh,
Their hanging end-tones,
Their flippant, rising soft tones,
And then their babies’ coughs.
Still they waited and said it wouldn’t be polite.

Then they came to take their shadows,
Their memories and the ghosts of ancestors they
Had buried on their hills
Ma On Shan, Tai Mo Shan, Lion Rock
Old Animals hurting now as they looked on
Over the flagrant ripples washing their tired limbs,
Still they waited and said it wouldn’t be polite.

But when they took their dreams hung with
Luk Fuk red pockets and
Banyan leaves they wondered if their time had come
So they stretched out their legs, gritted their teeth
Counted their number and rose together
As an angry sun told them their day had run.
We waited because they said it wouldn’t be polite.

Iris Ho