‘In Lithuania’ by Jean Kent

Ruta’s favourite word is ‘maybe’.
The dictionary on her lap
is heavy as another passenger
as she strokes and cossets it, dropping
the juicy apple crystals of Lithuanian
and hauling back the slow
chewing gum of English.

Even what it offers up, she doubts.
what Vylode said …
means this And ‘maybe’
this is the road to Panevėžys …
There are no maps,
the ones the Russians left were spored
with roads you could never find,
fantasies of freedom which made sure
you would be lost if you looked for them.

‘Maybe’ tonight we will have roast reindeer.
‘Maybe’ her daughter will study art.
‘Maybe’ all Lithuania will embrace
the plumbing supplies her American cousin
is planning to employ her to sell …

In the meantime she shows us
landmarks she can be sure of: the schoolroom-
turned jail, where her mother was kept
before she was sent to Siberia

the prison where her father was taken
decades later

the graves of grandparents who never met
her Australian cousin, this twin of her brother
recording it all on trigger-happy film.

It’s 1994. The country’s independent.
In her Russian uncle’s bumpy Opel
we rush round corners with her
toward this new place she hopes to plumb

where there are no secrets in the sewers
and happiness is a switched-on tap —
maybe maybe maybe

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Poetry’s Community

Published: www.textjournal.com.au/april00/kelen
Citation: Kelen, C. Poetry’s Community (2000). Poetry’s Community. Text – Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, 4(1)


The paper examines the idea of community by means of its expression especially in modernist poetries. Theories of Bourdieu, Blanchot, Levinas, Lingis and especially Lyotard’s construct, the differend, are applied to the project of assessing the relationship between aesthetic practices and the communities in which they arise and which they make possible.

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Jean Kent

Jean Kent was born in Chinchilla, Queensland, in 1951. She published her first poems in a literary magazine in 1970, while she was completing an Arts Degree (majoring in psychology) at the University of Queenslandl; her first collection, Verandahs, appeared twenty years later, in 1970.  Since then, another eight books of her poetry have been published. The most recent are The Hour of Silvered Mullet (Pitt Street Poetry, 2015) and Paris in my Pocket (PSP, 2016). 

Awards Jean has won include the Anne Elder Prize and Dame Mary Gilmore Award (both for Verandahs), the Wesley Michel Wright Prize, the Josephine Ulrick Prize and Somerset Prize. She has been a runner-up for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and winner of its Local Section, and was a judge of the prize in 2013. She has received several writing grants from the Australia Council, including Overseas Residencies in Paris in 1994 and 2011.

As well as writing poetry, fiction and (occasional) nonfiction, Jean has worked as an educational psychologist, counsellor in TAFE colleges, lecturer in Creative Writing, mentor and facilitator of poetry workshops.

With Kit Kelen, Jean was co-editor of A Slow Combusting Hymn: Poetry from and about Newcastle and the Hunter Region (ASM/Cerberus Press, Flying Island Books, 2014).

Her Flying Island pocket book is The Language of Light (2013), a selection of her poems with Chinese translations by Iris Fan Xing.

In 2020, Kit Kelen invited her to converse with him by email for his blog spot, The Daily Kit. Their conversation over six months, covering a lot of topics, including poetry, but also COVID19, the deaths of their mothers, gardening …

Jean lives at Lake Macquarie, NSW.

Links: jeankent.net

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

The Language of Light

In National Library of Australia

Translation Iris Fan Xing

The Language of Light is a selection of poems from Jean Kent’s collections, with translations into Chinese by Iris Fan Xing. The poetry ranges from memories of childhood in country towns and on a farming property in Queensland to adult experiences visiting family in Lithuania and living in Paris. Scenes from everyday life, working as a psychologist, and at home in a bushy suburb at Lake Macquarie, NSW, also feature. Included are poems which won the Josephine Ulrick National Poetry Prize and the Dorothy Porter Prize.

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Chan Lai Kuen 陳麗娟:亡星之城

Chan Lai Kuen (a.k.a. Dead Cat) was born in Hong Kong. She graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a degree in English, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (taken in Hong Kong) with a degree in Fine Art. Her book of poetry Were the Singing Cats (《有貓在歌唱》2010) was awarded Recommendation Prize of the 11th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature. Prose collection Kyoto that Cannot be Reached (《不能抵達的京都》) was published in 2015. Bilingual poetry selection City of Dead Stars is published in 2014. Chan also creates works of visual art.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

City of Dead Stars

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Odveig Klyve

Odveig Klyve (born 29 January 1954) is a Norwegian writer and film director.

Among her notable publications are Rift (poetry debut, 1993), Basunengelen (children’s book, 1997), Historien om Null (children’s book, 2003), Algebraisk (poetry, 2004), Det andre blikket (poetry, 2006), SterkestHistorien om Tre (children’s book, 2006) and Hemmeleg (children’s book, 2007). In total she has published seven poetry collections and eight children’s books. She has also translated work of the Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzād, the Palestinian poet Fadwa Touqan and an English poet.

She has written and directed several short films, which have been invited to international festivals in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Romania, US and India. She has her education in literature, film and social studies.

She hails from Hardanger and now lives in Stavanger.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Let’s Take the Blue Sky by Storm

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S. K. Kelen (Stephen Kenneth Kelen) is an Australian poet who enjoys hanging around the house philosophically and travelling. His works have been widely published in journals, ezines and newspapers, anthologies and in his books. Kelen’s oeuvre covers a diverse range of styles and subjects, and includes pastorals, satires, sonnets, odes, narratives, haiku, epics, idylls, horror stories, sci-fi, allegories, prophecies, politics, history, love poems, portraits, travel poems, memory, people and places, meditations and ecstasies. A volume of his new and selected poems was published in 2012. His most recent book of poems, A Happening in Hades, was published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2020.

Links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._K._Kelen

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Yonder Blue Wild

travel and places 1972 – 2017

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Kit Kelen

Christopher (Kit) Kelen (客遠文) is a well-known Australian poet, scholar and visual artist, and Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Macau, where he taught Creative Writing and Literature for many years.

Kit Kelen’s poetry has been published and broadcast widely since the seventies, and he has won a number of prestigious awards over the years, including an ABA/ABC Bicentennial Prize in 1988; and in 1992 an Anne Elder award for his first volume of poems The Naming of the Harbour and the Trees. He has also won Westerly‘s Patricia Hackett Prize and placed second in Island’s Gwen Harwood Prize. In 2012, his poem ‘Time with the Sky’ was runner up in the Newcastle Poetry Prize, an award for which he has been frequently shortlisted. In 2017, Kit was shortlisted twice for the Montreal Poetry Prize and, for the second time, won the Local Award in the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

Volumes of Kit Kelen’s poetry have been published in Chinese, Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Indonesian and Filipino. The most recent of Kelen’s dozen English language poetry books are China Years – New and Selected Poems (2012, ASM/Flying Islands) and Scavenger’s Season (2014, Puncher and Wattmann). He also has a mini-selected poems in the form of A Pocket Kit. His next collection of poetry, Poor Man’s Coat – Hardanger Poems is being published by University of Western Australia Press in 2018.

The most recent of Kelen’s ten solo painting exhibitions were Next Stop is the Stars (Rui Cunha Foundation Gallery, Macao) in 2015; in 2016, Dotze Pinturas (Estudio Nomada, Barcelona); and in 2017, Kelen’s exhibition up through branches – por árvores acima – held at the SNBA (National Society of Fine Arts) Gallery in Lisbon.

For the last decade Kelen has been facilitating the translation of Chinese poetry into English and of Australian poets into Chinese, projects which have so far produced a dozen large scale bilingual anthologies. These projects involved bringing poets and translators to Australia (notably to Bundanon, the University of Western Australia, and Kelen’s Australian home) to workshop with poets being translated. They have likewise involved hosting poets for workshops and meetings in Macao, and elsewhere in China. Apart from parallel-text anthologies Kelen has notably co-translated two volumes with the late Hong Kong poet Leung Ping Kwan (Ya Si), and four with Macao poet Yao Jing Ming (Yao Feng).

Kit Kelen has also worked with poets and translators to co-translate and publish volumes of poetry from French, Norwegian and Indonesian. A 2012 volume, Notes for the Translators, collected the work of 142 Australian and New Zealand poets, together with advice from authors on how their particular works might be translated into any language.

As an editor and anthologist more generally, Kit Kelen has published the work of hundreds of poets from around the world, but especially from China and Australia.

In 2008, he co-edited with Agnes Vong the first English-language anthology of Macao poetry, containing the work of more than 120 Macao poets, some writing in English, many translated from Chinese and Portuguese. In 2009, his critical volume City of Poets – Exploring Macao Poetry Today appeared to accompany the 2008 anthology.

In Australia, A Slow Combusting Hymn (co-edited with Jean Kent, in 2014) collected the work of more than sixty Newcastle/Hunter-region associated poets. Writing to the Wire (co-edited with Dan Disney and published by UWAP in 2016) brought Australians poets and poets in Australian immigration detention together in a sustained meditation on the question of ethos and the meaning of nation in the case of Australia.

Nation and nationalism have been an abiding interest in Kit Kelen’s own poetry and in his literary research. With Björn Sundmark, Kelen has edited two major international collections on Children’s Literature – The Nation in Children’s Literature and Where Children Rule (both with Routledge). He is currently working on a monograph (under contract with Routledge) about poetry, children and anthropomorphism.

Kelen’s published research into national anthems dates back to the 1990s and he has written many articles on this subject. This work has culminated in the publication of two monographs – Anthem Quality – National Songs: A Theoretical Survey (2014, Intellect/University of Chicago Press) and (with A. Pavkovik) Anthems and the Making of Nation States – Identity and Nationalism in the Balkans (2016, I.B.Tauris).

Kit Kelen has also published a more general monograph on poetics: Poetry, Consciousness and Community (2009, Rodopi)

Kit Kelen is Series Editor for ASM/Flying Islands books and, in this role, has cultivated a pocket poets series, publishing writers in various languages from around the world, but especially from Australia and China. Kelen is also Literary Editor for Postcolonial Text.

Since 2016, Kelen has co-ordinated Project 366 – an international on-line community of practice, involving poets and visual artists in daily postings of draft work. As a participant in this project (originally intended to run only for the duration 2016) Kit has now posted a new draft poem to the blog every day for more than 800 days.

A new on-line collaboration among poets and artists A Conversation in Poetry has recently commenced (in 2018). Participants in this project – including many of Australia’s best-known poets) respond in kind to each others’ work, without any time limits.

Kit Kelen lives and works on a five-acre block, in a valley between forests, in the Myall Lakes district of New South Wales. He writes and paints every day.

In 2017, Professor Kelen was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Malmö, in Sweden.

Links: kitkelen.com

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Wake to Play: Poems in First Philosophy

trans Papa Osmubal (in National Library of Australia)

A Pocket Kit 2

In National Library of Australia

A Pocket Kit

In National Library of Australia

Kit Kelen Read More »

Common or Garden Poets – Post #1 – Kit Kelen inviting Jean Kent

secret no one can keep


for Jean Kent



and now everyone knows


it’s the longer light

the mud to life

(a theory once)


how dare

and flirt


first thing from the veranda

an orchestra tuning

instruments of bright


nor anything regular intended

feathers carry word (which isn’t)


insects cone up, gyre like motes


can’t help the odd paint splash now

flowers all put on a show


a riddle in the turning

how we could come to here


woody thickets of delve

where nectar


parrots in mandarin

brazen sneak


glimpse them wing it too

a rite?


commence thirst


near the zenith

throw cloud by shade

we seek 

and shield the eyes from glare


later in the day

burn off last winter piles


a season as ever

never before!


limber and spit

get your hands on it


try a little nakedness now

dance breeze


dusk dew welcome


it is a week premature perhaps

sprightly and soon sprawl


the secret is out

now it’s Spring!


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