Hong Kong Poets Under 40 / November 2012 (Issue 19)

Jennifer Wong

 Jennifer Wong's first poetry collection, Summer Cicadas, was published by Chameleon Press. Her second collection, Goldfish, is forthcoming. Her poems have appeared in journals including Cha, EyewearMorning Star, Frogmore PapersWarwick ReviewOrbisTATE ETCUCity ReviewQuarterly Literary Review of Singapore, Iota, New Writer and poetry anthologies such as Oxfam Anthology of Young British Poets, edited by Todd Swift and Kim Lockwood. Wong graduated from Oxford and took an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She has taught poetry as writer-in-residence at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Recently, she took part in Poetry Parnassus Festival organised by Southbank Centre and the Hong Kong Literary Festival 2012. She currently works for Magma Poetry. [Blog] [Website]


For me, poetry is borne out of everyday silences in my head, from solitude. The way you piece together jigsaws of truth about people and places. You organise them over and again in your mind, trying to fit them together, not managing quite, instead creating something that is more like semi-truths. And don’t I love its candidness and irreverence! There are no rules to obey and no safety net either. If you fall, you just fall. The process is often slow, the way a wildlife photographer finds waiting or planning so necessary to get the best out of it. Occasionally, when a good line or poem arrives, you feel that you can nail down something or conquer life in a new way. It’s the excitement of being able to plant a little seed in your reader’s head and change his or her view towards an issue—forever. That, for me, is the satisfaction in making poetry.



The more you think of it the less
there is to miss –
and with a steady hand you empty
the jug in your head – multi-storeys
bullet lifts flyovers red taxis impatient
narrow-lane traffic and women
in wet markets haggling.
Bars full of drunken expats and Asian girls.
Tropical rain drums on zinc roofs.
Kids growing up with no garden or parks
to play in, folding origami frogs and planes
or chasing after home sparrows with air guns.

As if you could.
In the small hours you hear the departure of a train
as your city returns, affectionate and smothering.

Mother and Child

You showed me how to tell
a fresh egg by its shell,
holding it up against the lamp.

You’d look up at the sky, predict
from the stillness of the air
before the rain arrived.

The language of your dishes:
Ginger and tangerine peel julienned
to its finest; fish steamed to perfection.

On long summer nights
you’d lull me to sleep
in the breeze of your palm leaf fan.

Even caning, when it happened,
was a way of loving despite the hurt.
It has made me a braver girl.

And that first time I have stood on the swing,
facing the wind, flying forward,
seeing the world with your help,

leaving but not leaving you.
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ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.