Hong Kong without Us, edited by The Bauhinia Project


Hong Kong without Us is a decentralized book of revolutionary poetry. Drawn directly from the voices of Hong Kong during its anti-extradition protests, the poems consist of submitted testimonies and found materials-and are all anonymous from end to end, from first speech to translated curation. This collected poetic documentation of protest is thus an authorless work that brings together many voices.

The editors themselves are anonymous poets acting through the Bauhinia Project, an organization created to bring Hong Kong’s struggles to the stage of transnational activism through lyric and language, in the same spirit of leaderlessness as the protests. This book is a glimpse into the movement’s lives and voices. The poems here were either submitted as testimonies to the Bauhinia Project at an encrypted email address or collected as “found poems” from testimonies and protest materials on the streets, on social media, and on the news. Each was from an anonymous source in Chinese. They are a people’s poetry: nameless, lowbrow, temporally bound, squeezed out from moments of gravity and strife. They are meant to reach out across the silence of oceans, through differences in language and culture.

“‘Exile yourself to the street, an anonymous poet writes in the landmark anthology Hong Kong without Us, ‘Its our only way home.’ Its also the only way toward peace and democracy as Hongkongers have courageously demonstrated in wave after wave of public resistance, here through witness and dreams. The Bauhinia Project collective has distilled and translated the poetic spirit, grit, and compassion of ordinary citizenschildren, students, workers, parents, eldersfighting for their freedoms and sovereignty on the city streets. Their voices rise up from the tear gas and arrests, suicides, and national security laws past the skyscrapers and across the encrypted seas, reaching our hearts. This is what a peoples poetry feels like in a wrecked world: numinous heat in the floating city of the oppressed.
Jeffrey Yang, writer and translator of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobos June Fourth Elegies
Hong Kong Without Us is a work of 吉光片羽 [lit. feather from a mythical creature]. The poems in this book are a snapshot of postcolonial Hong Kongs voices and souls, young and old. If the stories we enact become the writing of history, then these poems will illuminate ordinary Hongkongers ways of seeing: their anxiety, affliction, frustration, joy, courage, hope, and dreams. These poems  confront cognitive barriers by returning to human basicsan embodied world of sound and word. They will guide readers into our strange land, permeated with the many fumes that shape our city.
Alex Yong-Kang Chow, (周永康), Hong Kong activist
Poems found scrawled or printed on Hong Kong walls, last wills and testaments, anonymous poems from a protest movement ‘led by children’ who covered their faces during the uprising, but whose protest woke up their country-people as this book, I hope, will wake up readers everywhere.
      Here is my evidence: I’m just a housewife / Last night I joined a rally / It was pouring // When I looked up / An umbrella was shielding me / raised by a teen.
      This is one of the most moving and humanly compelling testaments I have ever read. But this fragment is also a lyric translated beautifully with an elegant and light touch. Out of such fragments, scraps of voices, and scenes, the larger panorama of communal protest arises, a whole city comes alive, like a lit-up stained-glass window that creates an epic out of many tiny shards of glass. The beautiful, despairing, inspired, and unforgettable chorus of voices in this book is a testimony, it is a poetics of witness in the truest sense.
Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
THE BAUHINIA PROJECT is a collective of artists and activists seeking to bring international attention to and understanding of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, as well as to forge bonds of solidarity between thatmovement and struggles against oppression worldwide. The collective started in 2019 with the distribution of postcard-poems by an anonymous author inBerkeley, California.