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Christopher (Kit) Kelen is a well known Australian poet/artist whose literary works have been published and broadcast since the mid-seventies. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describes Kelen’s work as “innovative and intellectually sharp.” 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 R.Whiting Library in Rome. In 1999, he won the Blundstone National Essay Contest, conducted by Island journal. He also won second prize in the Gwen Harwood Poetry Award that year. In 2000, Kelen’s poetry/art collaboration with Carol Archer, “Tai Mo Shan/Big Hat Mountain,” was exhibited at the Montblanc Gallery in Hong Kong’s Fringe Club. And in 2001, another collaboration of essay and watercolours, titled, “Shui Yi Meng/Sleep to Dream,” was shown at the Montblanc Gallery.

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 Dante’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 Virtual Artists’ Collective Publishing (VAC) in Chicago. In 2005, Kelen’s long poem “Macao” was shortlisted for the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize and a re-edited version of “Tai Mo Shan” appeared in Southerly. Kelen's most recent volume of poems is Eight Days in Lhasa (VAC, 2006).

A new volume of Macao poems, Dredging the Delta, is forthcoming from Cinnamon Press in the U.K. Kelen’s collection of Macao stories and poems, A Map of the Seasons, is currently being published by the Association of Stories in Macao (ASM), together with a novel, A Wager with the Gods, both works being launched at Creative Macau (CCI) to coincide with the current exhibition, “Bridges and Boats.” In 2006, Kelen is a featured poet in a number of international poetry journals, including The Drunken Boat, Segue, Softblow, 63 Channels, The Poetry Kit and Sirena.

Apart from poetry, Kelen publishes in a range of theoretical areas including writing pedagogy, ethics, rhetoric, cultural and literary studies. Kelen’s Macao drawings and paintings have been featured in a number of international journals, including Foame, Philament, Dim Sum, Postcolonial Text and Segue. Kelen was shortlisted for last year's Phillipe Charriol Art Prize in Hong Kong and he is a member of Macau ArtNet (where he was featured as an artist of the month in 2005). In April of 2006, Kelen had a solo exhibition of watercolour landscape works titled “Sketches of Macao: Some Views form the Island of Taipa” in the gallery of the International Library at the University of Macao.

Kelen is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Macao, where he has taught Literature and Creative Writing since 2000. Kelen is the principal investigator in the University of Macao’s “Poems and Stories of Macao Research Project” and the editor of the on-line journal Writing Macao: creative text and teaching.

dark between empires
English version

dark between empires

a passage of steps
in the dark between empires

I live in a box
     worm burrowed
 patched of old packing
     in which the salt washes

deep in the grain
   lured along with a flute

red painted
  on Christmas lights a tide
moss shining with the rain

this is where the princess fled
the inflated courtesan was chased
into a fog of streets
    the prince followed

streets folded away
   inhabitants vanished
the cauldron was rolled in behind doors

    from a crack in the cabinet
   see the passage of ships
sometimes mist clears
      Peru hoves in sight

the ruins rise with each lapse of attention
a temple crops up in the street

but mainly the dice still roll with the decks
ivory on felt on timber

a revelation with the moon
which does the business of the goddess
to strike the silver sea
English version


the lovers
always climb to great heights
as if the views excused
their dark of heart
and shallow hope

God is a great height
    over our wishes
and they are dressed for it
skimp in the sweaty cloud that’s come for

the brakes will never do for this hill
English version


wishing to be
       alleywise appraised
                of each secret
and the unseen of public thoughts
I stand
    sententious blaze of eye
in the authentic streets
   the gaze on me

I am pure there
    dogs know it
the doors shrink
every shadow lengthens

still in its heat
the day hails me

like girls on the Rua Nova do Commercio
say ‘sleep’
meaning something restless for money

I could rub in those great soul silences
I’d be the stethoscope seeking out affect

    likewise the pressed meat men and girls
            hail me
    each to his own prosthesis

   the bus home has my number
the light electric a playful accomplice

    all acknowledge
        the dusty hat man
    lacking words
        the street must know by heart