hybrid talk in mongrel town – questions of identity in the cross-cultural space of the new Macao poetry
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Macao is a place of plural identities; or it will be more nuanced to say that identity in Macao is dynamic, layered, often paradoxical – for instance, at once cosmopolitan and parochial. Identity, for the poet, is gleaned from an historicized knowledge of position. Among the key themes of contemporary Macao poetry, chance and luck loom large, along with their figuration in Macao life through sites such as casinos and temples, through personae such as those of the gambler, the beggar, the prostitute. Macao as dot-on-the-map is likewise conceived as a site for all kinds of portal semiotics, as paradigm for cultural crossing and cultural shift. In the identity of the Macanese we find conditions emblematic of Macao’s situation more generally. Here – however the soul is unified or split – the body is of two places. The poet’s identity is something beyond what is circumscribed in national or local devotions. A poetic sense of place-based identity depends in some degree on the poet’s reflexive awareness of him/herself as a poet and of the work (and play) of making poetry. It depends, that is to say, on a consciousness of tradition/s and of breaks from tradition/s. That consciousness points to the infinite task in which every poet engages when s/he sees herself as participating in a tradition or a community; when s/he acknowledges that is, that words are from somewhere and that words have a destination.