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  • (Out of Stock) Mountain Songs

(Out of Stock) Mountain Songs

Tegan Smyth

English , 2023/11 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Poetry, Single author poetry collection

216 x 140 mm , 88pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-8833-50-4

  • US$18.00

Out Of Stock

Mountain Songs embodies the intersecting narratives of migration and how it shapes one’s identity.

Mountain songs (山歌) are integral to Hakka culture – Tegan Smyth’s maternal heritage – and have been a way to keep stories by unknown authors alive in an oral tradition. As Hakka’s prominence as a spoken language gives way to other more widely spoken dialects of Chinese, it is in careful records that the cultural practices and stories are captured so they can be seen by future generations. 

This is true of the poems contained in Mountain Songs, which focuses on the accounts of different women in the writer’s family, whose existence and memories have been passed down only orally and never in writing. The movement of mountain songs sung across different terrains and milieus mirrors the movement of Hakka people themselves, a widely dispersed people, where migration is tied to the community’s experiences both within and outside China. The writer draws parallels to the migration of her grandparents, her mother and self to that of transnational migration globally and social attitudes towards migrants and refugees. 

The writer observes that we are all more alike than we are different as we all have our own Mountain Songs or stories of migration – whether it is our own journey or that taken by ancestors to a new place. She hopes that within this collection, readers will find something that each can relate to or see a glimpse into a different way of life.  


“A personal account woven with the threads of identity, memory, family ties, and migration. In Mountain Songs, the refugee crisis afflicting our present times is echoed through the story of [Smyth’s] ancestors and their endless yearning for a place to call home, a place not defined by borders.” 

—Paola Caronni, author of Uncharted Waters, winner of the Proverse Prize 2021.

“Poignant, quotidian and mystical by turns, but always keenly insightful, these ‘mountain songs’ resound through culture, distance, and bittersweet experience.”

—Akin Jeje, author of Smoked Pearl: Poems of Hong Kong and Beyond.

“Lyricism and critical awareness work in tandem as intergenerational memories unfold.”

—Tim Tim Cheng, author of Tapping at Glass 

Tegan Smyth is a biracial poet with roots in Hong Kong and Australia. She was born in Sydney (Gadigal) and raised between Australia and Hong Kong, with parents hailing from both places. Her work has been published in Asian Cha, Voice & Verse, Where Else: An International Hong Kong Poetry Anthology, Twin Cities Anthology and The Economist. Her writing focusses on identity and belonging, drawing from personal experiences. In addition to her creative writing endeavours, Tegan is a qualified lawyer and founder of Grassroots Future, a registered charity focused on refugees in Hong Kong.   

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