I was born in the then British colony of Hong Kong and schooled in English and Chinese. I grew up with the Cantonese language, a language that persists in China though now threatened with extinction. It is the reason why I recorded my Chinese translations of English poems in Cantonese.
I came to Australia 50 years ago but though I had little use of my mother tongue I wrote long letters home, laboriously in traditional Chinese characters, sometimes with the aid of a dictionary. The Chinese dictionary was in time augmented with a bi-lingual one and I depended on it as I continued to read in Chinese and English and finding difficulties in both.
Poetry sustained me as I hungered for home. Volumes of classical Chinese poems spoke of every feeling that I had no words to express. I became a poet and translating Chinese to English and vice versa integrates the two parts of me, a stranger here and in my motherland.
June 1, 2017