IPNHK 2017


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An Ancient Enmity

—International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong 2017

          Denn irgendwo ist eine alte Feindschaft / zwischen dem Leben und der großen Arbeit. “For somewhere there is an ancient enmity / between our daily life and the great work,” wrote the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in one of his “Requiem” poems (Stephen Mitchell, trans.). For me, this line has always echoed with a persistent surge. Whether of the poem or of the poet, it is time to ask—particularly in our globalized era, with its heterogeneity in contention with isomorphism, with all its upheavals, its clamour and its lapses—whether or what ancient principles still exist in our poetry.

          For there is an ancient enmity between life and poetry—because, I believe, hardship is the wellspring of poetry, its first motivating force, though it is also the hardships and oppressions of life that allow for poetry to transcend the bounds of history, nationality, religion, ideology, even of language. Why does the middle class lifestyle have such difficulty creating great work? Why is it so rare for great work to be “created” in institutionalized creative writing workshops? Why can’t great work be “invented” by robots and Artificial Intelligence?

          The theme for the 2017 International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong is An Ancient Enmity.

          In November of 2009 we hosted the first International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong, making this now our fifth “poetry event.” And now, we are not only able to bring poets to Asia from around the world, but then on from Hong Kong to five cities in the mainland, namely Wuhan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Xiamen, and Guangzhou. And this is on top of our having published, since 2011, the work of all our invited poets in bi- or trilingual editions—the only such publication program to date of any international poetry festival. 

          It’s time that poetry revealed the heavenly secrets

          It’s time

Bei Dao          

18 July, 2017



          奧地利詩人里爾克(Rainer Maria Rilke)在《安魂曲》中寫下這樣的詩句:「因為生活和偉大的作品之間/總存在某種古老的敵意」。對我來說,這詩句就像激盪而持久的迴聲。無論對於詩還是詩人,我們敢於不斷追問,尤其在一個異質與同構抗衡的全球化時代,一個巨大變革的時代,一個沉淪而喧囂的世代,在詩歌的寫作中,是否仍舊存在著某種古老的法則?