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  • (Out of Stock) Grandfather’s Robin

(Out of Stock) Grandfather’s Robin

Gillian Bickley

English , 2020/09 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Poetry

216 x 140 mm , 123pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-8492-07-7

  • US$22.00

Out Of Stock

Grandfather’s Robin collects 63 poems written or completed since Gillian Bickley’s last poetry collection, Perceptions, was published in 2012. To some extent these new poems reflect her activities, thoughts and experiences during the period from 2012, including in Hong Kong and Andorra. But some concern previous experiences, recorded in earlier years. At least one – the sympathetic and affectionate portrait of her maternal grandfather – is a synthesis of childhood memories. She responds to people, to fellow-creatures (defined from a biblical perspective and including mammals, birds, trees, the moon and human manufactures), considers social behaviour (including as a response to political change, and as reflected in exhibited works and their visitors), and also reflects on concepts of eschatology and survival. She aims to communicate as simply as possible and to elicit or extend what her readers may already know from their own different lives and experiences.



So many reasons to enjoy Gillian Bickley’s luminous poetry – humor, depth and wisdom.  Through her verse we feel deep empathy for a grandfather, a bus driver, a waiter offering soft food to toothless aunties and grandmas, a beloved housekeeper.

It is a measure of Gillian Bickley’s humanity, that she feels the wonder and dilemma of our shared lives with each other, with cats, birds, lemurs, and a gorilla.   She speaks for the trees.  Bickley takes us to her Pyrenees, to Andorra – exotic and mundane.

Lovely and evocative, Bickley’s powers of observation and precise, selective description lend many of these poems the power of fine portraiture, a sepia photograph, where we see into the eyes, where we discover essence.

Jack Mayer, Vermont, USA

In this work, Gillian Bickley affords us a glimpse into her perspective. She invites us to reflect on the rich tapestry of life and our shared human experience. Why should you read this collection? Because there is no greater privilege than intimacy. 

Mary-Jane Newton, Oxford, UK

Grandfather's Robin, as Gillian Bickley notes in her brief introduction, is a recollection, drawing together fragments of experience since her last collection in 2012 but also from the whole of her life. Poetry “takes its origin,” as Wordsworth wrote, “from emotion recollected in tranquility.” What begins with a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” ends in carefully chosen words that bring to mind what “caused them to be written down.” In ‘Soft’ (24), describing a 2013 encounter with a young waiter in Hong Kong, she writes, “Sometimes, when we speak, our lives unroll / Before those we speak to, without our knowing.” That image of our lives unrolling in our words without our knowing captures the spirit of this collection perfectly – poems as moments of tranquility in which we can encounter lives unrolling in times that (as ‘Beyond 1997’ subtly reminds us) are anything but. To make a record such as this is a good resolution indeed, and I am pleased that Gillian has chosen for the cover a moment of tranquility I painted. As Mrs. Dorothy Collins might have said (32), reflecting, as these poems do, the quietness of a life-long practice, “Very well!”

Steven Schroeder, Chicago, USA

Gillian Bickley was born in the UK and has lived mainly in Hong Kong (but also in Nigeria, West Africa, and Auckland, New Zealand) during her professional career as a University teacher of Literature in English. Five of her poetry collections have been published – For the Record (2003), Moving House (2005), Sightings (2007), China Suite (2009) and Perceptions (2012) –and her collected selected poems, Over the Years (2017). In 2014 at the 18th International Festival, “Curtea de Argeș Poetry Nights”, held in Romania, she was awarded the “Grand Prix Orient-Occident Des Arts” by the Festival Board. Bickley is one of the Hong Kong poets discussed in Agnes S. L. Lam’s study, Becoming poets: The Asian English Experience. From time to time she now teaches creative writing at the School of Professional and Continuing Education, University of Hong Kong. Gillian is also known as a historian who takes special interest in nineteenth century Hong Kong. Her biography of the founder of Hong Kong Government Education, The Golden Needle: the Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889), is regarded as definitive. More recently, her editions, Through American Eyes: The Journals (18 May 1859 - 1 September 1860) Of George Washington  (Farley) Heard (1837-1875) (2017) and Journeys with a Mission: Travel Journals of The Right Revd George Smith (1815-1871), first Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong (1849-1865) (2018) joined an earlier work, Hong Kong Invaded! A ’97 Nightmare (University of Hong Kong Press, 2001) (an edition of the 1897 work of future war fiction, The Back Door), and  have gained attention. With her husband, Verner Bickley, she founded the International Proverse Prize for unpublished book-length fiction, non-fiction, or poetry and the International Proverse Poetry Prize for single poems.

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