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Performances and talks at Colorbox Arts: poetry, art and short fiction

When: Sunday, April 22 from 1-3pm

Where: 383 Xiangyang Lu #20, Third Floor (see more at:

20 RMB gets you free drinks & snacks + three great talks:

Tim Tomlinson | “You Are What You Drink”

Tim will read a story and a few associated poems, all coming out of experience of New Orleans, and talk a little about the impact of place in general—and New Orleans in particular—on his imagination (and liver).

Monika Lin | Double Happiness and Take Away

Monika will discuss the role of narrative in two bodies of work: Double Happiness, composed of painted layers sealed in resin above complex patterns formed by a virtual pharmacy’s worth of psychopharmaceuticals, and Take Away, a series of rice-and-tape sculptures frozen with resin blocks cast in Shanghai restaurant take-away containers.

Katrina Hamilton | Short Stories

Hong Kong native and Shanghai resident Katrina will read short fiction. Much of her work stems directly from her experience of China, including a stint living in Chengdu and a lot of travel.

More about Tim, Monika and Katrina

Tim Tomlinson is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. He is the fiction editor of the webzine Ducts. Recent work appears or is forthcoming online and in print in Asia Writes, Caribbean Vistas, InterlitQ, Mandala Journal, The New Poet, the New York Quarterly, Pank, Prick of the Spindle, riverbabble, Salt River Review, and in the anthology Long Island Noir (Akashic Books). He was featured poet in Saxifrage Press (Dec 2011). “Blue Surge, with Prokoviev,” in Sea Stories, was nominated for Best of the Net 2011.

Monika Lin studied fine art at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California and lived and worked for 12 years in San Francisco, where she is represented by Toomey-Tourell Fine Art (where Double Happiness appeared). After teaching painting practice and theory at the Kansas City Art Institute for several years, she moved to Shanghai, where she works in her studio on, teaches and runs the Colorbox Creative Arts Center. Recent installation work has shown in Shanghai at OV Gallery (where Take Away was recently shown), Recent work has also been shown in a group exhibition held in both Beijing and Paris. She is represented by galleries in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, and Shanghai.

Katrina Hamlin is a journalist and writer living and working in Shanghai. Originally from Hong Kong, she has also lived in England and Chengdu. Katrina’s articles and stories appear in the Shanghai-based HAL publications’ books (Party Like It’s 1984 and Middle Kingdom Underground) and website, the Chengdu-based MALA literary journal, the Curious Ant and ThinkSix web projects, and Shanghai Business Review magazine, which she edits.



HAL’s Mad Tea Party: Two Lumps

That’s right folks, time for more tea, check out these lovely little crumpets from our gals D and K below!

Dena Rash Guzman – All the Tea in China

Katrina Hamlin – New Home


New Home

By Katrina Hamlin

The small blond girl opens the door, and steps out onto the landing. She drags a big suitcase with broken handles. She’s late.
A Chinese man – timid stance, mid-50s – is standing at the top of the stairs.
He is shocked to see a small blond girl on the landing. He spills a “Hello” before he can stop himself.
“Nihao,” she replies, and turns to rattle the keys into the lock. She’s used to her own novelty, and those looks, which come with a reflex “Hello”.
“You live here?” he asks, watching.
“Wo zhu zai zheli. Wo de jia.” She zips the keys into a hand bag, and moves to push past, to the stairs. The plastic wheels rumble on the concrete floor. Continue reading…


News: Unshod Quills releases Issue Two 9/15/11

Superman Down - Photography - Jillian Brall of Unshod Quills

We at HAL are happy and proud to inform you that our sexy sister site in Portland has released the second edition of Unshod Quills, containing art, fiction, videos, and more; all the finest in hip literature in pandemic format. A good amount of HAL authors are including in this issue (you remember the China-US cross-writing exercise we did at Groupthink? You see people, there’s a plan with everything we do, promise!), look out for Jason Lasky, Lucinda Holmes, Ginger wRong Chen and Catherine Platt, just to mention a few. Oh, and your favorite HAL editor debuts as a photo artist. In all modesty as always, needless to say. Big congratulations to Dena and UQ, HAL loves ‘ya!

B. Continue reading…


The Beautiful Country

by Katrina Hamlin

My name is Xiao Yu. I am nineteen.

I have eaten KFC fried chicken and onion rings, washed down with milk tea. Then I ate a doughnut, which is an incomplete cake with a hole in the middle.

I have heard rap, which is when you have a song but you don’t sing. I can do that at the KTV.

I have seen their TV show series, which are about real life, but with shiny teeth and hair and perfect love.

So I already knew quite a lot about the Beautiful Country when I met my first Beautiful Person.

The Beautiful Person, whose name was Sam, was still in some way not what I expected.

Continue reading…


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

Some time ago we started a project entitled Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang. Basically stories about a train journey from one end of China to another. One of those stories in paticular inspired us to make it into a running series. That story belonged to Katrina Hamlin and can be found as Part 1 linked below. The general gist was to create a collection of short stories penned by a number of different authors that form a complete story involving the main characters. Think of it as many authors writing a book one chapter at a time through the medium of short stories.

Our next chapter is by our own Miller Wey. You can find all four chapters by following the links below. To add to the narrative, check out the contribution guidelines. Good luck!


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four – (NEW!) Different Lines by Miller Wey


The Golden Boy

by Katrina Hamlin

Ocean Park Themepark, Hong Kong, 1993.

“Scallywag,” said Mummy.

“Scallywag!” said the Hong Kong Granny in Cantonese as the peppermint ice cream slid down her face. But she smiled, licking cream from her hairy chops.

She reached out to touch his hair again, still smiling, green cream gathering in the wrinkles around her eyes. “Little gold-hair boy! Such good luck.”

He had nothing left to throw, and this was stranger danger just like they told him at school. Why did she want to touch his hair? Why was Mummy on her side? Why was she angry with him? Why was the woman not repelled by the well-aimed ice cream?

Overwhelmed by Mummy’s injustice and seeing that the world didn’t make sense, he turned and ran.

“You Scallywag, come back,” screamed Mummy.

He felt a knot tightening in his stomach and knew he couldn’t ever ever go back. He ran faster.

The Hong Kong Granny at another Granny in her tour group. “Did you see the gold-hair boy? I touched the gold for luck, and now he is running.”

Continue reading…


Happy Birthday, Spring 2112

by Katrina Hamlin

It was her 123rd birthday party, a century after she’d first come to Shanghai.

They gave her a silver walking stick. They also promised to take her to the tailors to have another cheap qipao fitted, though they were all certain that she would never wear it out of the house.

Some of the neighbours came to pay their respects. She thanked them with bare, toneless niceties; then, flustered, she returned to the backroom.

“So rude,” her great-grandson complained to his mother. “Why does she do that?”

“You know, when they arrived, almost all of them were illiterate, and most of them couldn’t tingdong,” said his mother. “Sometimes it’s still a bit much for her.”

That was the first time he’d thought about her arrival. Suddenly, his great-grandmother’s life seemed like a bad fit.

After a hundred years, the qipaos were still only costumes; this wasn’t her real home.

Continue reading…


Rabbit Hole

by Katrina Hamlin

Once upon a time someone had told her not to go out into the dark, dark city when the sun went down. Shanghai was full of monsters after midnight, she was warned.

She was told not to go out into the dark, dark city. But she went out.

She left a trail of rice behind her, so she could find her way back.

She followed the music in the air, towards the bright, distant lights.

She found a city built from the Frankenstein shards and splinters of other places and peoples. She couldn’t understand what she heard and saw, because they didn’t make sense, together or apart; red rabbits and Father Christmas and pink tinsel and gold characters and toneless speech and sing-a-long, ghostly laowai and rosy cheeked Shanghairen slamming glasses on the table, dancing on the bar, sleeping on the floor, falling out the door and blowing smoke into the night.

Continue reading…



by Katrina Hamlin

She looked up from the pocket dictionary. Hard, sleeper; “Ying, chang. Ying chang. Yingchang.”

The ticket seller looked back at her. “Yingchuang?”

“Ying, chang.”

The next lady in the queue repeated her, concentrating on each sound. “Ying chan.”

An impatient teenager behind her hollered, “Yinchuan,” and then in ragged unison the entire queue shouted, “Yinchuan.”

Relieved, the girl thanked them and smiled. “Yes, a hard sleeper.”

Continue reading…


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