Prof. Kelen the Poet-artist from Afar
左手寫詩,右手畫畫 ──來自澳洲的客遠文教授

19 Jan 2011

Prof. Kelen the poet-artist from Australia. Does his face look familiar to you?

A professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities has acquired a very beautiful Chinese name which perfectly fits his experiences. The name means “a guest from afar who is passionately devoted to art”. Meet Prof. Christopher Kit Kelen, a poet-artist-professor from Australia. His artistic expression has found form in poetry, in painting, in fiction and in the essay.

社會科學及人文學院Christopher (Kit) Kelen教授為自己改了一個很好聽的中文名──客遠文。這個名字非常貼合他的經歷:從澳洲到澳門,教學、遊歷、熱心參與藝文活動。這位遠道而來的澳洲人,左手寫詩,右手畫畫,把自己的奇思妙想通過不同的藝術形式表現得淋漓盡致。就讓《澳大人》帶大家去認識一下這位無論外貌內涵都十分有藝術氣質的詩人教授。


Prof. Kelen’s work revolve around various themes and are represented in an abstract way. Since he came to Macao he has created a large number
of paintings and poems featuring Macao landscapes


A Decade in Macao

Prof. Kelen is a renowned poet-artist from Australia. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describes his works as “innovative and intellectually sharp”. His fame as a poet has spread far and wide. His maiden work The Naming of the Harbour and the Blundstone won him the Anne Elder Award in 1992, followed by another two poetry awards in 1996 and 1999.

It’s been eleven years since Prof. Kelen first came to Macao. “Now I teach Creative Writing, Children’s Literature, and Poetry (Reading and Writing),” said Prof. Kelen. “I think Macao is an extremely interesting place with friendly people and strong and varied cultural traditions, and also the students have a good attitude to learning.” Apart from teaching, Prof. Kelen has never ceased his artistic pursuits. He has published poetry books and has held painting exhibitions and poetry readings both in Hong Kong and Macao.

來澳十年 熱心藝術

客遠文教授是澳洲非常著名的詩人與畫家,一本名為The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature的書形容客遠文教授的作品「充滿創意和智慧」。他詩名遠播,1992年他憑首本詩集The Naming of the Harbour and the Blundstone獲Anne Elder獎,1996年及1999年亦分別獲得另外兩項詩歌大獎。



Apart from sketches, Prof. Kelen also does watercolour paintings.


Prof. Kelen’s Muse of Art

The most admirable thing about Prof. Kelen is that he has always maintained a burning passion for art. Asked about the connection between poetry and painting, Prof. Kelen smiled, “Poetry and painting have really different functions in my life. Poetry is a professional commitment and painting is more of a hobby.”

Where does Prof. Kelen draw his inspiration? Was he born with an exceptionally creative brain? Or is he particularly favoured by the Muse of Art? “If you’re a poet or an artist, it’s your job to let the world inspire you. I certainly find inspiration in my interaction with Macao people and particularly with our students at the university.”





Any idea which place it is?


Poems Inspired by His Life in Macao

When asked what he thinks is the most attractive thing about writing, Prof. Kelen quoted a poem written by his favourite German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht:

        And I always thought: the very simplest words

        Must be enough.  When I say what things are like

        Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.

        That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself.

        Surely you see that.


客遠文教授用他最喜歡的德國詩人及劇作家──布雷希特(Bertolt Brecht)的詩來概括寫作的最大魅力所在:



Prof. Kelen loves Macao. He has written five poetry books about Macao, namelySketches of Macao, A Map of the Seasons, Kit Kelen’s Macao, The River Considered as Sea and Dredging the Delta. The River Considered as Sea, a book of paintings and poems in three languages (English, Chinese and Portuguese) was published by the University of Macau in 2009. Prof. Kelen has also co-edited several large anthologies of Macao poetry in translation and published a critical monograph about Macao poetry entitled City of Poets–Exploring Macao Poetry Today. His Macao novel A Wager with the Gods was published in 2006.

客遠文教授熱愛澳門,他為澳門寫過五本詩集,包括有《澳門畫集》(Sketches of Macao)、《四季的地圖》(A Map of the Seasons)、《客遠文看澳門》(Kit Kelen’s Macao)、《以河為海》(The River Considered as Sea)以及《疏浚三角洲》(Dredging the Delta);《以河為海》是中英葡三語版的詩畫集,2009年由澳門大學出版。他還合編過幾部澳門詩歌譯本集,出版過一本名為《詩人之城──探索今日的澳門詩歌》(City of Poets–Exploring Macao Poetry Today)的評論。他的一部關於澳門的小說《與眾神打賭》(A Wager with the Gods)發表於2006年。


Let’s look at one of his poems about Macao:

Hac Sa Beach: yin yang musing

eyes shut

and under the birds
lie the rocks
only water can tell

it’s out of their
irresistible stubbornness
each lends the other
a form

讓我們來看看他書寫澳門的其中一首詩:(何海玲 姚風 譯)











Teaching from Example

How does a prolific poet such as Prof. Kelen teach his experience about artistic creation to his students? “I think one of the most important things a teacher of creative processes can do is to provide a role model for students by showing them what can be done and how it can be done,” remarked Prof. Kelen. “Creativity needs community in order to thrive, so in my classroom I’m always trying my best to foster a creative community—that is a place where we all encourage each other to make the best use we can of our imaginations.”

Now he is working on a book of poetry exercises for use in and out of the classroom, as a kind of companion for Story Circle Manual, a textbook he wrote some years back for teaching story writing in the Macao context. Interested to sample Prof. Kelen’s Creative Writing classes?



現時他正著手寫一本供學生在課內外使用的詩歌練習手冊,可以讓學生動手嘗試創作。之前他也編寫過一本叫《故事圈》 的故事寫作手冊(Story Circle Manual),都是創意寫作的好教材。你有興趣來聽聽客遠文教授的創意寫作課嗎?