CONTRIBUTORS featured in the Departures section in Issue 68 of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine 聲韻詩刊: Tammy Lai-Ming Ho (editorial), Chris Song 宋子江 (one poem), trans. by Lucas Klein ◎ Louise Law 羅樂敏 (one poem), trans. Jacqueline Leung ◎ Zhou Jun 周珺 (one poem), trans. Anna Yin ◎ Anna Yin (one poem) ◎ Greer Mansfield (one poem) ◎ Patrik Malec (one poem) ◎ Nguyễn Lâm Thảo Thi (one poem) ◎ Rachel Gomez (one poem) ◎ Graeme Brasher (one poem) ◎ Kelly Chan (one poem) ◎ Melona Grace Mascarinas (one poem) ◎ Lananh Chu (one poem) ◎ F Jordan Carnice (two poems) ◎ Tony William Wallin-Sato (one poem) ◎ Justin Cruzana (two poems) ◎ Luoyang Chen (one poem) ◎ Dave Drayton (one poem) ◎ Alyza Taguilaso (one poem) ◎ David Wood (one poem) ◎ Aathma Nirmala Dious (one poem) ◎ Lorraine Caputo (one poem) ◎ Jonathan Chan (two poems) ◎ Sam Cheuk (one poem) ◎ Dongli Liang (one poem) ◎ Leo Baltar (one poem) ◎ Shikhandin (two poems)
READ the descriptions of the poems and the biographies of poets and translators on Facebook: https://bit.ly/3u123sk
Editorial: A Pulsing That Communicates
by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho
In recent years, a number of good friends and allies have chosen to leave Hong Kong because of work and other reasons of survival I won’t rehash here. I feel as though I have been living with an uncontrollable and expanding sense of dread all this time. Paralysed in a prolonged stupor, swollen with melancholy. I have been hearing “leaving is for the sake of returning” (離開是為了要回來) like a mantra.
This is a saying I am ambivalent about; ambivalence is often my default setting, or indifference, even. The expression reminds me of an observation made by a character in the American playwright Edward Albee’s one-act-play 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑍𝑜𝑜 𝑆𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦: “Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” I want to believe that there’s some truth in that statement. But I also interrogate it: How long is a “long distance”? “Out of the way” in what sense? Literally, in terms of flying miles for example, or is there room for metaphorical interpretations? What does “correct” mean? What was correct yesterday can be pinned as incorrect today. What conditions need to be in place to trigger that “sometimes” moment? “Necessary” is often used hypothetically, without genuine urgency. I’m on the pole of two extremes: thinking too much. Thinking too little.
I suppose departures are good in some contexts. Academic writing embraces them—𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑢𝑑𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑑𝑒𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑐𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘, 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑐ℎ, 𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑠ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒… Using what’s already there as a starting point or springboard to pave new grounds and steer in novel directions. But life isn’t a piece of scholarly writing—it is a lot more than that—and it is largely less formulaic. This I have had the misfortune to experience first-hand through an unplanned series of hospital stays, which has sharpened my understanding of many important things in life. In the last few months, I was hospitalised twice and I am currently on medication to treat ailments of the blood and the heart. When I was in an emergency ward the first time, I was put on a gurney, my near-naked body attached by cords to a vital signs monitor. There were constant beeping sounds from the machine, compounded with the barely intelligible cacophony of medical staff speaking to one another. My lack of familiarity with their words, the brusque activity in my vicinity, and the unforgettable glimpses of other patients far older and far frailer than me, added to my anxiety. I thought of how a particularly composed female professor I know would conduct herself in my situation. Would she be able to keep her dignified posture and reassuring countenance? I certainly had no dignity to speak of at that point. I also thought of how stupid I was not to have a book, as though in my position I could actually read. (I wouldn’t have been able to, anyway. I lay flat on my back.) Then I was beginning to plot death narratives in my mind so as to concentrate on 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔, both against my will and strangely, to my morbid delight.
I thought of the piles of books, many half-read, some for show. Literary theories that I had not yet mastered because I scorned them. Farewell phone calls. The little presents that I treasured but hid away; I am so very protective of them. Will I have the ability to haunt and to make amends? The quiet spots that I sat by myself before hosting literary events—𝐼’𝑚 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑡𝑜𝑜 𝑠ℎ𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑎𝑙𝑘 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑠𝑒. This and that crossed my mind. Many this𝑒𝑠 and that𝑠. My mind couldn’t stay still and all the scattered thoughts seemed pathetic. What I think I did get away during those initial hours of waiting is this: there are departures that are really, really irreversible. And there are others that can be viewed as opportunities, a chance to renew and be reborn, even if it requires leaving much of what you have known behind.
Friday 28 October 2022