All the Words a Stage, Nashua Gallagher (Chameleon Press, July 2018)
All the Words a Stage, Nashua Gallagher (Chameleon Press, July 2018)

All the world may indeed be a stage, but a poet’s world consists of words. Nashua Gallagher’s debut collection of verse resonates with themes of coming of age in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, and is set in a belovedly re-imagined yet elusive “home” with a cast of friends, family, poets and others. Her work traverses tender recollection, wry observation, and candid commentary on the road to love, motherhood, identity, relationships, and the many entanglements of modern living.

A City Mismanaged is policy analysis as blood sport. Leo Goodstadt needs no introduction in Hong Kong circles; those outside might need to know that he was head of the pre-Handover Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit from 1989-1997. He has penned a no-holds-barred smackdown of the four post-colonial Hong Kong administrations.

Balancing on a narrow boat in the middle of Aberdeen Harbour—the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in the background—were two dancers from the Hong Kong Ballet in a perfect pose, the red of their shoes and shorts popping against the red of the boat’s lanterns. In the background Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre was giving his feedback on the shot; photographer Dean Alexander was trying to capture the moment.

To take a photograph, Susan Sontag tells us, “is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge—and, therefore, like power.” A photograph also preserves evidence and exposes the human condition, which the viewer then appropriates. Old photographs preserve worlds that are gone, but they also bring them back, because the moment which they record is there forever, and cannot be moved in time either backwards or forwards. David Bellis knows this, and he has given us a glimpse of a world that is still present in photographs, a world which contains stories that are also preserved.