Monday, May 16, 2016

Life of a Poet ~ Luk Lei

I think for this feature, a slow trip by steamship is in order, as we sail across to Macau, called the City of Poets, to visit a new member of our community, Luk Lei. This poet, who writes at The Daily Poetic,  is from the States, but lives in China with his wife and small daughter. I don't think we have featured a poet in China before, so, armchair traveler that I am, I am most eager to pay Luk Lei a visit. I think we need to pour a cup of oolong tea, for this visit! And be prepared: we are actually going to visit Macau in person during our chat. Stay tuned.






Sherry: Luk Lei, I am so happy to be chatting with you. I was recently  intrigued to discover you are a US expat, living in Macau, a  region transferred to the Peoples’ Republic of China  two years after Hong Kong was. I don’t think we have ever featured someone living in China. Would you tell us about it, and how you came to be living there? We are all ears!

Luk Lei: Thank you, Sherry, it’s an honor and I appreciate the opportunity to give you all a bit of an insight to my life and writing abroad.  I have actually come to be in Macau as my wife is from the region and our daughter was born here.  Most of the expat community here and in Hong Kong have moved for business reasons, particularly for the gaming industry, but my circumstance is a bit different. I have more or less moved for love; to be near my wife and our daughter.





But first, let me try to give a little insight on Macau. Though often over looked and relegated to a chapter in Hong Kong travel books, it is a fascinating and unique place, complete with its own quirks and charms.  It is, just like Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC).  It’s a bit hard to define what that means as no one here can really define it well either.  In short, Macau and Hong Kong operate as their own Autonomous Regions operating under China’s One Country, Two Systems policy. They have their own currency, they both drive on the left side of the road, not the right as in China. They have their own laws, Chief Executives, legislative councils, customs and immigration procedures. Essentially they are countries in their own ways, yet without the status.

Macau, has a deep history and an influence that seems disproportionate to its size.  It’s both ancient and modern at the same time with evidence of human occupation going back nearly 10,000 years.  Its current iteration rides on this concept of East meets West. For over 400 years, Macau had been under Portuguese administration till December 20, 1999 when it was handed over to China for reunification. 



Prior to the establishment of Hong Kong by the British, following the First Opium War, Macau was the main trading point between Chinese and Europeans. For a short period of time, though contentiously, as the Portuguese were fiercely protective of their nearly exclusive export of Chinese goods, the East India Company operated trade and opened a headquarters for China operations just on the outskirts off the walled city at the time. 

During that period before the Opium Wars, the Portuguese had established what was basically a European city in the East, complete with a cathedral in Baroque style with Chinese and Japanese influences, which exist today as Macau’s most iconic symbol, the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Those influences can still be seen today as much of the remaining historical buildings in Macau bear a unique mixture of Portuguese and Chinese style structures that all borrow influences from the other.

Following the establishment of Hong Kong, Macau languished more as a back water destination as its nearby sister city syphoned off what gains that could be made by the trade of Chinese goods.  This is where the city developed most of its characteristics it is known for today, gambling, entertainment, and organized crime. Thus was its reputation that Ian Fleming featured Macau in several of his James Bond books as a place to get information, play games of risk, and enjoy a somewhat decent cocktail. There was even a Film Noir from the 1950s called “Macao” that kind of played on its seedy reputation.

Prior to and since the handover, Chinese and Macanese authorities had a big push to clear out the triads and to clear up the city’s image and begin to transform it into Asia’s Sin City.  Since 2002, development of casinos by foreign companies was opened allowing for Las Vegas style Hotel Casino Resorts to be constructed.  This investment brought huge construction projects that nearly doubled the land size of Macau through reclamation and introduced some of the world’s largest hotels and casinos.  So when you see the Macau of today, you basically see 13 square miles of densely compacted residential and commercial properties, bathed in a purple haze of Casino lights.





For a while the success was so vast that the gaming revenue was nearly 6 times that of Las Vegas.  However, the city has run into a crisis.  In 2014, The PRC leader, President Xi, initiated an anti-corruption campaign to rid the government of “Tigers and Flies”.  Apparently a large number of corrupt business and political leaders had been using Macau to launder ill-gotten gains.  For nearly 2 years now, the gaming industry has lost nearly one third of its revenue, month after month, when compared to the same month the year before, as these players abandoned ship leaving many of the junket operators, that helped to funnel money for these corrupt officials, without high rolling customers.  Somehow the city still thrives.  One thing I learned being here, living here, is that no people as a society seem to understand tenacity better than the Macanese.

Sherry: Thank you for giving us the historical background. It sounds like an amazing place in which to find oneself. You are living an adventure, disguised as daily life!

                                  "A City of Poets"

Luk Lei: Culturally, this city is much deeper than the thin veneer created for tourists and gamblers.  This city is a true city of the arts with a very influential cultural bureau, large and regular art festivals and a strong promotion for classic and modern arts, including writing.  Macau has been referred to as the “City of Poets” given the number of prominent poets that have either lived or worked here in their lifetimes.  Most of these are Portuguese and Chinese language poets, but there have also been a few in English as well.   The most influential poet is likely the Portuguese poet,  Luis Camoes, who wrote the bulk of his epic poem on the history of the Portuguese people, Os Lusiadas, in Macau.

I know this is a lot to give regarding the topic, but the history and society are complex and deep, and any explanation I give will largely be insufficient.  This of course is without diving into the culture and politics between Macau, China, and Hong Kong, and what it may also mean for nearby Taiwan.

If I could summarize Macau in one sentence, it would be this:  A city overly noisy, overly crowded, with great food and great people.

I’d also like to provide this video to anyone interested in seeing a bit of what Macau is about.  The Macau tourism board released this video hosted by Julian Davison recently, and is about the best capture of the heart of the city.





Sherry: Thank you for this amazing inside look at your area, Luk Lei. It is such a wonderful blend of old and new. I would be forever seeking out the ancient places, if I lived there. When I clicked to full screen, it felt like I was right there. Sigh.

Luk Lei: As I had mentioned earlier, I had moved here to be with my wife and daughter. I have been here almost 4 years now raising my daughter as a part time stay at home daddy, part time tutor, part time writer/copyeditor.  It’s a challenge for sure, as I am having to adapt to the culture, language and ways of conducting business.  But, it’s amazing that a lot of issues concerning most immigrants, such as assimilation, hasn’t been that terribly difficult.  Nearly everyone here speaks at least 2 languages, much of which is English, but that doesn’t help me much in my personal development, as many local people refuse to engage in Cantonese with me so as to avoid the frustration and difficulty in dealing with a Gwei Lo with poor pronunciation and grammar skills. As such, my Cantonese has maintained its consistent poor level, a challenge I aim to overcome with time.  The food here is fantastic also, the Portuguese when they came here brought various foods from Africa, India, Indonesia, etc., and it mixed with local Cantonese style cuisine resulting in a very unique Macanese style of cuisine.  It’s very hard to find a bad meal here.

Given these unique circumstance, I had decided to adapt a pseudonym that tried to capture this transition I am experiencing.  I know there has been some confusion as Luk Lei is not actually a fully adopted Chinese name (the surname and given name are out of order), but it is actually a play on my true name. Lei is the surname I adopted for my daughter in Chinese as it is about the only name that is close to the pronunciation of my real surname.  I had adopted this in my pen name, more as an honor to her.  Luk is taken from my given name but is distorted to be pronounced as “luck”.  Put it together and you have a name that phonetically sounds like “luckily” as luck is something I seem to be always chasing.





Sherry: I am smiling at the chasing luck situation. I so know the feeling! Would you tell us about your family?

Luk Lei: I don’t come from a large family and we are all scattered to the winds.  My mother and sister, with her daughter and husband, live in Texas. My father is still in my home state of Michigan, while I have a myriad of aunts, uncles and cousins scattered all over the US, but most living in Ohio. I have one grandmother living still in Ohio, who still has spunk, vim and vigor.  It seems the wind had blown me the farthest now that I am calling Macau my new home. 

It gets me thinking about my ancestors, who had mostly came from Germany to the US in the 1800's  and whether the winds of change will blow my heirs around this great planet right back to the start, possibly collecting new experiences, stories, and genes along the way. I love my family very much, and am proud of all of them, as they have all found some level of success and stability.  It’s quite likely I am the black sheep, having not really stabilized or found my own success yet, but no doubt, I am certainly living the most unusual life of any of them.

Sherry: You are having a Great Adventure!

Luk Lei: In Macau, it is my wife, daughter and I.  My daughter is already in school as education starts early here with 3 years of Kindergarten before Primary school.  My parents had warned me just how fast children grow; I didn’t take them seriously as it seemed like forever, growing up, but now that I have a child of my own, I realize exactly what they muean.

Sherry: It does go by too fast. What is your line of work in Macau?

Luk Lei: Prior to moving to Macau, I had been working insurance claims in Florida. It was a fantastic job (and no I’m not being sarcastic), and I had terrific co-workers whom I still maintain contact with.  But as I couldn’t easily find work in the insurance field in Macau, I had started to tutor English with local youth and adults.  It’s not much of a living, but it is deeply rewarding. 

The desire for learning and improvement amongst Macanese and Hong Kong people is voracious (most being able to speak 2 or more languages fluently), so I had no trouble finding students in need of assistance.  As a result, for over 3 years, I have been assisting English language development and providing freelance language services for various local people and businesses.  

On the side, I’ll also do the odd freelance photography job every once in a while. Though not intentional, I seem to be developing into a jack of all trades.  In Macau, if you are a western expat, it’s what you have to do to survive, unless you work in the Casinos or Banks.  Thankfully, finding some business isn’t too terribly difficult.





Sherry: It takes courage and a positive attitude to make such a leap and find your sealegs so quickly, and you have done that. Way to go, Luk Lei. Your photos are absolutely wonderful!

I wonder, looking back at your childhood, is there anything that pointed the way to your becoming a poet? 

Luk Lei: It’s peculiar how influences work, how you may not recognize it at the time but figure it out long after, sometimes too far out to provide those people with the due thanks they deserve.  For me, there are far too many to count as I have taken so much from every place I have lived and every person I have encountered.  But there are a few from my present and my past that  led me to the passion to write, namely my parents, family, and teachers.

As a child, I cannot recall any particular event that would lead me to poetry, but I was surrounded by poetry, stories and history.  I had grown up in rural Hillsdale County, Michigan, near the border with Indiana and Ohio.  It was about the furthest you could be, in the region, from any places of interest including cities and people.  The area was very vanilla and completely whitewashed. Yet, it was a great place to grow up.  The people were nice, accommodating, and the country air was clean, with plenty of nature to experience and explore.  At the time, however, I found no inspiration there, and the thought of writing never really struck me as being a vastly important activity.  Rather in my innocent mind, writing had been relegated as a task for homework or simple documentation.  

I treated reading with the same ambivalence, only reading non-fiction, as that was about the only thing that maintained my interest.  Additionally, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was 9 years old.  Having to deal with the constant tics, twitches and diminished attention span that came along with it was especially challenging.  Luckily it didn’t affect my growth as a student, and I continued to test and achieve above average, but that was the result of great support from my parents, doctors and teachers.  But still, the inability to maintain lengthy focus made reading long books a bit difficult and writing a chore, as my herky-jerky motions made it difficult to write cleanly.  Even to this day, my handwriting is terrible and is a constant source of embarrassment.  Keyboards are a godsend, it seems.

Sherry: You have weathered your challenges so well, Luk Lei.

Luk Lei: Despite these personal detractions, I was awash in influences.  In our community, a local poet from the late 1800's and early 1900's, Will Carleton, was often celebrated and honored.  He had been a lecturer at Hillsdale College and had earned fame for several poems, including “Over the Hill to the Poorhouse”, which is said to have been inspired by our local poorhouse, which stands as a museum today. I still return to his poems, as it’s written in the dialect of the time and our region, and it’s a wonder to see how things have changed and hadn’t changed since his era. I hadn’t really appreciated this influence until I left University and the State of Michigan altogether.  Being separated from home, his poems seem to be one of those connections I need.

As for personal influences, my mother is by and large the most influential as she is a voracious reader and lover of words. To this day, she still has the best command of the language of anyone I know and I will consult her for any advice or improvements from time to time. Beyond that, she is also the most inspirational, having raised my sister and I while working the second shift in a factory, helping us through college, then putting her self through nursing school on her own dime, becoming a successful nurse, and at all stages willingly sacrificing her needs and wants to help when help is needed. Superman has nothing on her.  She did her best to influence my sister and I by introducing various artists, musicians, and authors.  Emily Dickinson’s and Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry are particular favorites of hers. She continually pushed us to read and engage,  and many of the pieces she’d read to me or have me read are still favorites of mine to this day.  

Sherry: You have a wonderful mother, Luk Lei!

Luk Lei: While my mother did her best to influence me, it was various teachers that had really provided me the motivation to eventually write.  My Senior Year English Teacher, was the first person that seemed to recognize that I had some writing ability in me.  Up to this point, I had thought of my writing as rather pathetic and poor, but she always had great compliments and poignant advice on improvements. But, above all, she had my back when times in school were a bit tough.  There was one instance, when our class for the final school newspaper would make predictions of fellow classmates in the future. 

Being a bit awkward and nerdy, I was a target at times for ridicule, and a couple boys had submitted a draft with a very unflattering depiction of my future.  Their intent wasn’t entirely malicious though, meaning it to be tongue in cheek, typical bonding behavior amongst teenage boys, but my self-esteem was such that I didn’t stand up for myself at the time.  My teacher had the final say on everything that went into that paper and when she saw what had been written, she came to talk to me. Not wanting to seem weak in front of my peers, I had informed her that I was ok with it; though I wasn’t.  She had seen right through me and had proceeded to change the draft.  When that senior school paper came out, she had written on my writing abilities and that I would someday find success as a writer.  I hadn’t expected this and was deeply moved. Now, some 18 years later, I haven’t forgotten her words, yet I cannot recall exactly what my classmates had originally written.  While I haven’t actualized on writing till recently, I live with this moment in my head and pray that I can live up to her prediction.

Sherry: It is often one statement of belief by a teacher or elder that stays with us and inspires us. I love her kindness, and her prediction. What was it that made you chose poetry as your means of creative expression? What do you love about poetry?

Luk Lei: Firstly, I am only recently coming about serious writing.  I had started constructing poems on a regular basis last summer (2015), and since then I have constructed a little over 250 poems at the last count.  Most are just frames of ideas, hardly worthy of any promotion but ones that I intend to flesh out later.  Prior to this, I had dabbled in poetry from time to time but had largely forgotten or lost those early works.




Since moving to Macau, the stresses of trying to maintain a young family, without the stability of my former career, in a land that is foreign yet Familiar, and a language spoken that has been hard to crack, my senses and experiences have been stretched and tested in ways I hadn’t anticipated. It’s stressful, but growing, challenging.  For many days I’d have ideas and thoughts that would just pour in, based on experiences I’ve had, witnessed, or for the most part contemplated more as thought exercises based on news, media or general philosophy.   I initially came about this expression mostly to document the ideas that have been swimming in my head.  The pond is too small and some of the big fish needed to be culled.

Sherry: I love that metaphor! I can almost hear your brain churning, with all your new experiences. You now have such a wealth of material!

Luk Lei: I can’t really say I had chosen poetry, as when I would write ideas down I found that I would almost inevitably end up with a pattern or a rhyme.  Initially, prose was what I wanted to try and concentrate on, but the short lines, compacted meaning, rhythm and rhyme in poetry proved to be too irresistible.  The greatest part of constructing a poem is the interpretations others will take away.  I construct a poem from a specific point of view, but relish when others read my work and come up with concepts and ideas I hadn’t even thought of.  An author or poet may own the words, but interpretation belongs to the masses.

What I have learnt to love about poetry and constructing poems, is how to read deeper, how to impart more of my thoughts into every word, line and punctuation. I may not land on every metaphor but the experience of experimenting with my thoughts and words has its own rewards. Though, I am not religious at all, I would liken the experience to almost being Zen, spiritual.  It’s calming and relaxing.  I find that if I don’t write for a while, I feel it.  I get an anxious itch.  Even now, I have been helping a friend with an editing project that has taken most of my time over the past 2 weeks and I haven’t been able to write during this period.  So as result, my responses to your questions may be coming out a bit long winded, as I am trying to work out this nervous energy.

Sherry: Well, we are all hanging on your every word, so no worries there! When did you come to the world of blogging, and how has it impacted your work?

Luk Lei: I started my blog “The Daily Poetic” in 2015  as an experiment, to workshop my poems and to explore poetry from a personal perspective, with the hope of gaining some feedback so I could redirect or improve what I am writing, as well as discuss and display works from others that are good or interesting.  Sadly, I had little success in finding feedback, until I had found Poets United, which has thankfully been helpful in providing some discussion, interpretation, and influence.  

I’d say that blogging has, at the very least, provided me with enough feedback to keep motivated and to find a bit of structure.  I am struggling to find my voice however, as my poems cover such wide varying topics. In time, I am hoping I can find a clear voice and direction so I can concentrate on crafting and refining a collection for publication.
Prior to this, I have tried twice to launch a blog, but procrastination and self-doubt can be taller than a ladder can reach.

Sherry: Your voice will emerge very naturally, over time. It seems very clear to us, now, in fact.  Would you like to choose three of your poems to share with us today?

Luk Lei: I seem to have found my comfort zone in short to medium length poems.  Perhaps it’s just right for my attention span and hopefully for others.  The 3 poems I wish to share are ones I do not believe the Poets United Community has read.  The first one I want to introduce is one entitled “Macau”.  This poem I wrote at a time while becoming frustrated at the inability to find a quiet place to think.  Given the density of this city, noise pollution is a constant and distressing problem.

Macau 

There is no quiet
Place, no escape.
The sound of this city
Penetrates, denigrates
The thoughts in your head,
As though to pick apart
Every synapse, leaving it dead.
Concentration is a chore,
But with 700,000 souls
In a city merely 30 km squared,
The task is impossible;
The mind shouts in despair.


Sherry: That is a densely packed population. And after watching the video, I can now picture it as the background to this poem.






Luk Lei: This next poem, “The Imposter”, is an exploration into when self-doubt strikes hard.  For me it strikes often and can bring with it a bit of a depressive edge, though no matter how it strikes me I know it can strike others harder. But what is the feeling when you reach this emotion but you can’t convey to others the pain or the suffering.  One has to try to keep a little bit of the light of inspiration within themselves.

The Imposter

An imposter, am I; a stranger in my own skin.
A sensation that I don't belong to any company, wherein
I can find some support, love, or inclusion,
But the distance of relations has left my soul in utter confusion.
I could reach out, however experience has left me overly cautious,
As the one that could be my solace,
My comfort, may arrive with conditions
That if not met bring further admonitions.
I blame no one! This trap is my own
Contraption that was born off the inevitable thoughts of living alone.
Yet the near limitless patience I have with others,
I often wish was reciprocated by my sisters & brothers.
At least there is one with whom my deepest affections belong,
But she is much too young for me to throw upon
The weight I carry in the depths of my heart.
Yet her being is of the most illuminating light,
                  Shining on the recesses of the dark.


Sherry: I can see her little face, shining with love!

Luk Lei: While I do parse influences from my own life, after all a good writer writes what they know, most of my poetry is not largely biographical but philosophical.  This next one is an exception.  “Little Dancer” was written after a moving feeling I felt seeing my child dance freely and with such immense joy, with little cause or reason.  It’s one of my shortest poems, but one of my favorites.

Little Dancer

My little child,
Dance and sing.
White fire under your feet,
Blue ice falling
Irregular rhythm,
More natural than
Choreographic Theorem and
A dancer’s precision.
Joyous pleasure,
Expressed in simple motion
To your new life's Joy
And endless devotion.


Sherry: This is beautiful, and so moving, I can see your little dancer, through your words. What other interests do you enjoy, when you aren’t writing?

Luk Lei: Being a daddy has been my primary and most rewarding activity.  Trying to find new ways to play and influence my daughter largely dominates my time.  Playing games, reading to her and taking pictures for her.

Despite my childhood approach towards reading, I read constantly and willingly: newspapers, magazines, books, travel brochures, cereal boxes, anything I can get my hands on.  I read for fun and to my students and my daughter, to educate them. Recently, I have been obsessed with the poetic works of Kenn Nesbitt, the children’s poet.  His poems are hilarious and current, so many of my students get a lot of enjoyment from his work.  In this later stage, I am happy to have found joy in books. 




However, my passion is Photography.  For some time after moving to Macau, I did some work as a part time freelance photographer.  I will still do it from time to time, depending if my schedule will allow. Macau has been a great location for photography as it is small, compact, and filled with many interesting subjects, as well as a dense and varied population, giving every potential photo a life of its own. I maintain a couple of online galleries that I update once in a while. Here are a few links to my galleries:







Sherry: As you can see, kids, from the photos in this feature, it is well worth your time checking out these links. You take marvelous photos, Luk Lei! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Luk Lei: Given the social nature of the net, it is surprising sometimes just how unsocial and uncivilized it can be. I found Poets United by searching for poetry blogs hoping to find some community and inspiration. Prior to finding Poets United, I searched but couldn’t find a compatible community.  I tried (and am still trying) twitter, which has garnered little interaction.  

At least with Poets United, the engagement level is high.  Everyone at Poets United has given value back to the internet, at least for me.  All the interactions have been genuinely heartfelt and supportive, which is fantastic, especially when you need that boost when self-doubt hangs low overhead.  I want to give a big Thank You to everyone who has talked to me and commented on my work, as well as being willing to share their personal masterpieces. 

Seeing the many different viewpoints and backgrounds is refreshing, and a great learning experience.  I know it is a lofty goal sometimes, but for every person that messages or comments, I do my best to respond as timely as I can.  You gave me your time and your thoughts which are precious, and I cherish that, so I will always do what I can to at least give a response or a thank you.

Sherry: We so appreciate your kind words, Luk Lei. Mary has done a wonderful job of fostering  reciprocity on this site, and our members are all lovely people. It is true, poets often work in isolation, and a few comments and some encouragement from other poets really means a great deal to a writer. It keeps us going

Thank you, Luk Lei, for giving us such a wonderful sense of the part of the world you live in. It has been fascinating. We look forward to enjoying much more of your poetry (and photos!) in the months ahead.

Wasn't this a wonderful trip, my friends? Our first trip to China! Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!






31 comments:

  1. What a wonderful feature - thank you both - am very glad you found Poets United Luk Lei - how fitting that you landed in the city of poets and how good to rea dab out where you are and what life is like there (another great thing about PU and Internet writing..great for all armchair travellers and for feeling connected to things 'back home') I love your influences - your mother and your teacher - much better than dusty old poets we are meant to like. Also backs of cereal boxes are a wealth of inspiration...although it seems you have much around you. Your poetry is so well honed like all that energy focused and refined - and heartfelt - great work and much more to come I am sure

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    1. Thank you, Jae. So long as ideas keep rattling around in my noggin, I'll be sure to have more coming :). Couldn't agree more on what influence and inspires us. It's often the things, places, and people closest to us. Not usually those that are seperated by time and space.

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  2. Great interview! Luk Lei, your little girl is lucky to have a father who sees into things and expresses them in poems and photographs. I like the Dancer poem with the white fire under her feet, the way it swirls around me. Your photographs, too, have unexpected openings in them. I'm very glad you are here.

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    1. Thank you, Susan, and I am glad you have enjoyed everything. I'm pretty lucky to have her too, She's a little firecracker, always smiling, loud and free.

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  3. Well I must say I never enjoyed myself more than traveling to Macao with both of you...what a rich history, and I can only imagine the food....and I would also seek the older areas of the city. You are traveling on a most challenging and special path Luk, and your poetry is so full of that life. I now understand the poem Imposter from your more personal life lens...I hope we continue to see you here Luk and enjoy your stunning photography and words!

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    1. Thank you Donna! The food here is quite good. If you look up Macanese Cuisine in google, there are some site that offer some excellent recepies. Most of the food is home cooking inspired so it's not too difficult to give it a try.

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  4. It was very inspiring and energizing to read this interview. Luk!! Whatever you wrote about PU is absolutely true! It's hard to find a platform like this. Your poems make me pause and read and reread– your words flow with feelings so beautifully! Thank you for sharing the photographs as well.
    Super interview, Sherry!

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    1. Thank you Panchali! If you seek, you shall find. It just takes time, and I'm glad to have landed here.

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  5. Luk Lei - Welcome to the neighborhood. I found this interview intriguing and I had a bit of a history lesson. Thank you for sharing. I will be sure to stop over to read your poetry.

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    1. Thank you, Truedessa! I appreciate this! I hope you enjoy the other content I had written as well!

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  6. I knew everyone would enjoy this visit! I have the best job in the world. Every week, sitting at my desk, I travel somewhere new. Thank you, Luk Lei, for a most wonderful visit, in words and photos. (And video!!)

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    1. Thank you for the chance to talk, Sherry! I appreciate all the comments and the love.

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  7. Hi Luk Lei, great to know you better! at first, i thought you may be a Chinese, even a Cantonese like me, but never mind, we do still share some things in common, like how we like to write, and care for our families, and we live in tiny city states which are densely populated and with its own distinct cuisines.
    glad to know you have an instagram account too. :)

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    1. Oh my goodness, how could I have forgotten we HAVE been to China, to visit you, Lee San. Forgive my complete lack of short term memory. Sigh. I remember "visiting" Singapore when you and I chatted . I remember how you cycle off into the natural places as an antidote to the urban cacophony.

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    2. Nah, just a gwei lo residing in Macau :) My wife is Cantonese however and slowly but surely I'm picking some things up. My daughter however is beating me to it. Though, I have lived here 4 years. I had been visiting the region frequently for almost 16 years. While I struggle to get the language down it seems I've assimilated in many ways, with light years yet to go, lol. But Singapore is phenomenal, and I couldn't agree more that there are some very strong similarities. I had visited last almost 5 years ago, just as the Marina Bay Sands was being constructed. I loved every moment of it, even the intense heat. :)

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    3. Hi Sherry, i think you have got it mixed up a bit here, you have been to Singapore to interview me, not China. :)
      anyway, my grandparents are from China, so yeah, there's some sort of a link there.

      hey Luk Lei, the Marina Bay area is a very lovely place now, especially the Gardens by the Bay. the heat is still intense though. :)

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    4. I can imagine, some of my friends and clients that have been to Singapore in the past few years have commented how beautiul the area is and how nice the Marina Bay Sands is, often wishing that Las Vegas Sands Corp. would have done the same to some of their properties here.

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  8. Thanks for another Monday poet close up Sherry and thanks Luk esoecially I appreciated the video of Macao.

    Much love...

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Gillena. It does well sumarizing this place.

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  9. Luk & Sherry, what a wonderful collaboration! Luk, I read about Macau with interest. I had been to Hong Kong, so I have a bit of an idea how Macau's government must function. It sounds like a very vibrant place. I like especially that it has good food...smiles! Your life definitely took you on an interesting journey. Ha, I had not realized you were an ex pat..but it sounds like you are enjoying your life, wife & child, in your new environment. Really glad that you have found Poets United, Luk! Really enjoy the depth of your poetry. Sherry, another fine interview!

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    1. Thank you very much, Mary! The region is so unique. Hong Kong is a great city suffering through a bit of political and social turmoil right now, but Macau perseveres. If you ever find your self back over this way, we'll have to connect you to some of the Portuguese Egg Tarts and Pork Chop buns. Fantastic simple eats.

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  10. Dear Sherry and Luk, loved the post, and loved learning about Macau. Thanks you so much!

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  11. What a wonderful interview! I did indeed hang on every word and was enthralled by the video. I very much enjoy your photographs, Luk; and I like your succinct yet deep poetry, with its facility for unusual but natural-seeming rhymes. I particularly like the line about the dancing daughter, 'White fire under your feet'.

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    1. Thank you very much Rosemary! For a while I have struggled trying find a way to describe my method. I think your description is the one I had been looking for. :)

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  12. I so much enjoyed reading this interview. Luk, your life is fascinating. Thank you for sharing your adventure, your challenges with us and, of course, your poetry. The pictures are great! Sherry, thanks for this one. Your questions are always on target.

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  13. I really loved the interview and responses Sherry and Luk. Beautiful poetry and mesmerizing photography what a treat its all was. I must confess my impression of Macau was from the James Bond stories and films of many years ago.

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    1. Given the era in which the novels take place, I think Ian Flemming as probably very close to matching what Macau was like. Very seedy. Especially given the floating casino he referred to was a real thing, though sadly, no more. (The version featured in the film adaptation of Skyfall is highly romanticized, however. Many locals, when the film came out, wished that the old floating casino looked that good. lol)

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  14. I enjoyed this look into another world, especially liked learning about The City of Poets and how Luk got his wonderful name.

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    1. Thank you Colleen, it took some thought and searching to narrow down my pen name :)

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