Hong Kong Poets and the Making of a Sinophone Literary Genre


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Citation of Original Publication

Tong, Christopher. “Hong Kong Poets and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Literary Genre” WRITING CHINESE JOURNAL 2, no. 1 (December 20, 2023): 66. https://doi.org/10.22599/wcj.44.


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Hong Kong has always existed on the margins of history. Interestingly, Hong Kong’s liminal status also made it a cosmopolitan space for transcultural exchanges between Chinese and Western worlds throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Despite its unique position vis-à-vis China and the West, however, Hong Kong has long been dismissed as lacking cultural gravitas. As such, Hong Kong culture finds itself self-consciously confronting a perennial crisis: as the People’s Republic of China gains increasing recognition in the canons of world literature, Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan culture is indirectly side-lined in the process. Meanwhile, Hong Kong literature is routinely underrepresented in the canons of modern Chinese literature. Anthologies of modern Chinese poetry and poetry research, for instance, scarcely include Hong Kong poets, if at all. Given this context, this essay seeks to rearticulate the place of Hong Kong in modern Chinese literary history. More specifically, it traces the emergence of Hong Kong poetry as a cosmopolitan literary genre in the latter half of the twentieth century. The goals are threefold: to historicise the confluence of Chinese and Western literary traditions in the city of Hong Kong; to locate specific intersections of identity, language, and politics in the production of Hong Kong poetry; and to introduce biographical and bibliographical data on notable Hong Kong poets.