new Michigan press

Interview: Jennifer S. Cheng

I know in the past many writers have been dismayed by Hong Kong’s literary scene, or lack of, as in literary journals, readings, events. Have things changed?

I can’t speak for the Chinese-language literary scene, but it’s true that the English-language literary community is very small. Aesthetically there is a lack of diversity. I don’t know if it’s the linguistic situation or the ever-looming financial/business culture, but lately I’ve been wondering if the lack in the literary arts has also to do with the city’s struggle with identity; I recently attended a lecture where the speaker pointed out that historically HK was never given the chance to shape its own sense of identity. And if you think about places where the arts flourish, or even the inception of American literature, it usually coincides with a strong sense of self-identity. Much of the literary scene also seems to be expat, which I suppose makes logical sense, but HK has such an interesting relationship with the English language, I find myself wishing for a more heterogeneous mix of writers. I do sense, though, that the literary arts is burgeoning–there’s even a new MFA program this year–which means every literary person here has the chance to be a part of the conversation in shaping Hong Kong’s literary identity. So it’s a really exciting opportunity for birthing those journals, readings, events


Author Spotlight & Random / 3 Comments
February 5th, 2011 / 2:09 pm

I is to Vorticism

Hearty congratulations to Ben Mirov, winner of the 2009 DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press chapbook contest. Read the press release–including exultant blurbs from Dobby Gibson and the great Elaine Equi–over here (pdf). That page also has a poem from the book, and an order form–you’ll want the latter after reading the former. Also, here’s Ben’s blog. Also^2, you can find even more Mirov in the premiere issue of Maggy, a sweet-ass new poetry journal that will be getting its own post later this week. (You’ll also find him in the next Agriculture Reader.) Anyway, congrats again to Ben, and here’s another poem from I is to Vorticism, which I was super-delighted to receive in the mail the other day, and have been happily working my way through:

Wind-Up Birds

Dear Mr. Murakami:

I am like that guy in your novel

who goes down in the well

and gets trapped there until

he finds a secret passage and escapes

or maybe someone lowers a ladder?

I don’t remember where he goes next

but I’ve wanted to tell you this

since I read your book in San Francisco

after a horrible breakup and discovered

a pale blue light behind my eyes

I had never noticed before.

I thought you’d written your book about me

without knowing it, of course.

I had the urge to write you a letter

explaining this but I didn’t want

to freak you out. I just wanted

to say thanks for being in my poem

and for the sense of wellness

that pervades my life these days.

P.S. I almost forgot to ask!

What should I do next?

Author Spotlight / 8 Comments
January 12th, 2010 / 1:47 pm