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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poet Kit Kelen and Gang visiting from Macau

Photo: yesterday at UWA with Iris, Professor Kit Kelen, and Jo.
We were enjoying a translation workshop, serenaded
by the resident peacock and peahen strutting the stage 
at the New Fortune Theatre.

The following poems all by Kit Kelen.

everyone has their orders to follow 

one of the guards is in charge of the lock
another keeps the key
one sharpens the instruments of torture
one measures up for the simple box
and one will spade the earth in

none of these men has a name
and in the morning
each of them shaves
with a similar razor
and until
his face is gone

work of the everyday

every day of my life
I’ve built
block upon block
I added to meaning
I added things up
seemed as if
from nothing once
but that was never the way
all that I needed must have been there
I’ve puzzled it out of the ruins
yes – the materials were there
where I stood
were with me from day 1
it was just a matter of
opening my eyes

now I’ve four walls
and the roof’s almost done
where once I had
a sky 

he decides to start a religion

I have perfected the art of falling up
it’s taken me till now
and of course there’s still some proof
left to the pudding
the kind of thing angels applaud

and so it is with no little suspense
I step up on the window sill
I won’t tell you how many floors up
I hold out a finger
to test the wind
and so I lead the way

damage control

those who
make weapons
buy weapons
sell weapons
those who
tell us
we must have weapons –
these people should have weapons
tested on them


Christopher (KitKelen (客遠文) is a well known Australian scholar, poet and artist whose literary works have been widely published and broadcast since the mid seventies. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describesKelen’s work as ‘typically innovative and intellectually sharp’. Kelen holds degrees in literature and linguistics from the University of Sydney and two doctorates from the University of Western Sydney – a PhD in the area of poetics and an EdD in Critical Pedagogy of Creative Writing.
In 1988 Kelen was winner of two major poetry prizes conducted for the Australian Bicentennial. His poem ‘Views from Pinchgut’ won the ABC’s competition for a poem of eighty lines or less. Kelen’s first volume of poetry 
The Naming of the Harbour and the Trees won an Anne Elder Award in 1992. In 1996 Kelen was Writer-in-Residence for the Australia Council at the B.R.Whiting Library in Rome. In 1999 he won the Blundstone National Essay Contest, conducted byIsland journal. He also won second prize in the Gwen Harwood Poetry Award that year. 

Kelen’s fourth book of poems 
Republics – dealing with the ethics of identity in millennial Australia – was published by Five Islands Press in Australia in 2000. A fifth volume New Territories – a pilgrimage through Hong Kong, structured after Danté’s Divine Comedy – was published with the aid of the Hong Kong Arts Development Board in 2003. In 2004 Kelen’s chapbook Wyoming Suite – a North American sojurn – was released by VAC Publishing in Chicago. In 2005Kelen’s long poem ‘Macao’ was shortlisted for the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize and a re-edited version of Tai Mo Shan appeared in Southerly.  2006 saw the publication by ASM in Macao of a book of Macao stories and poems titled A Map of the Seasons, and a short sci-fi historical novel, A Wager with the Gods. In 2007, Kelen edited a feature entitled ‘Poetry of Response’ which appears in Jacket magazine. 2007 saw the publication by Cinnamon Press in the UK of a volume of Macao poems titled Dredging the Delta. A bilingual English/Chinese volume Ke Yuan Wen Kan Aomen (Kit Kelen’s Macao) also appeared that year. And in 2007 Kelen was winner of Westerly’s Patricia Hackett Prize.

In 2008 VAC published Kelen’s eighth volume, 
After Meng Jiao: Responses to the Tang Poet. The most recent of Kelen’s ten volumes of poetry are God preserve me from those who want what’s best for me, published in 2009 by Picaro Press, (N.S.W, Australia) and In Conversation with the River (VAC 2010)In 2009 Kelen was shortlisted for the PressPress Poetry Chapbook Award and his volume of poems the whole forest dancing was published by PressPress in 2010 in English, Chinese, Portuguese and Italian editions. In 2010, Kelen’s poem ‘time with the sky’ (inspired by a 2009 Bundanon residency) placed second in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. 

Apart from poetry, Kelen publishes in a range of theoretical areas including writing pedagogy, ethics, rhetoric, cultural and literary studies and various intersections of these. In 2010 Kelen coordinated a poetry translation retreat at Bundanon in NSW, part of an ongoing project translating Australian poets into Chinese. A first volume in that series, 
Fires Rumoured about the City – Fourteen Australian Poets was published in 2009Kelen has also been co-editor of two important Macao poetry anthologies – I Roll the Dice – Contemporary Macao Poetry (2008) and Portuguese Poets of Macao (2009), both bilingual editions published by ASM. In 2009 Kelen published two theoretical volumes concerning poetry; with Rodopi in Amsterdam: Poetry, Consciousness and Community; and with ASM in Macao: a first book length English-language study of Macao poetry: City of Poets. 

With regard to his own visual arts practice, in December of 2006 Kelen had an ink and water colour exhibition at Creative Macau (Macau Cultural Centre) titled: 
Bridges and Boats. The catalogue for this exhibition was CCI’s 2007 calendar. In 2008-9 Kelen’s exhibition palimps-ink was held at the Macao’s Albergue Gallery. Kelen’s most recent solo exhibition, held at the Fantasia Galleries, was to the single man’s hut, a homage to the Australian painter, Arthur Boyd. 

Kelen is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Macau, where he has taught Literature and Creative Writing since 2000. During this time he has mentored many local writers, seeing through to publication numerous first novels and volumes of stories and poetry. Kelen is the editor of the on-line journal Poetry Macao and poetry editor for the monthly lifestyle/current affairs journal Macao Closer.

1 comment:

Janet Jackson (poet) said...

I particularly like the first two poems. How long is he in town? Can you bring him along to Perth Poetry Club? :-)