Local Habitation By Louise Ho HKU/Twilight $50 LOUISE Ho has come into her own: not as a Hong Kong Chinese poet who happens to write in English; not as an English-language writer who happens to be Chinese, but as a poet who has matured and found a voice which projects with equal emphasis each facet ofher identity. Ironically Ms Ho was typecast as a Hong Kong poet at a time when she was least concerned with Hong Kong themes and in a way that scarcely did justice to the breadth of her vision. Now she has opened out her focus and veered away from the inward-looking direction of her earlier work. In Local Habitation, she has, with complete serendipity, come upon her poet's identity where she least expected to find it - on her own doorstep, in Hong Kong. These poems, collected under the title Linedrawing, are united by a central preoccupation with the nature of Hong Kong's own perplexed identity. In What's in a Name, the poet uses the sound of ''Hong Kong'' as a metaphor for its progress as she charts the course of its development. First, going back 20 years, she tests the reverberations of ''Hong Kong'' to see if it rings true, but it rhymed too well/with ting tong. . . King Kong and ping pong. Its tinny, jokey sound reflected its lightweight status as an emerging entity and nothing of its Cantonese original. Now the world hears respectable resonances in ''Hong Kong''. Its success has earned it a complacent place on the lips of politicians/ and the fashionable alike and an established hold in universal linguistic currency as a byword for success. In Remembering 4th June 1989, a powerful poem which draws a parallel between the dead Irish rebels commemorated in Yeats' Easter 1916 and the victims of the Tiannanmen Square massacre, Ms Ho suggests that Hong Kong's identity has been forged vicariously by the impact of the event: As we near the end of an era We have at last/ Become our selves The catalyst/Was our neighbour's blood'. Home to Hong Kong, on the other hand, is a celebration of the city's multi-faceted personality: A Chinese/Invited an Irishman To a Japanese meal By the Spanish steps/In the mid dle of Rome Having come from Boston/On the way home. There are some beautiful poems in Local Habitation : urban and pastoral still-lifes giving on to sudden epiphanies at the end; powerful war poems and eulogies; platonic idylls crossed with rude awakenings. Ms Ho uses a successful combination of tools to probe the territory's identity: the metaphysical to find harmonies between part and whole, the modernist to seek out chaos and disparities in apparent order, tearing down smug assumptions. She carries many influences in her writing: traces of Yeats in her vision of the centre falling apart; evidence of Eliot in her preoccupation with the inadequacy of language, invariably altered in fulfilment; even some of his apocalyptic mysticism. But most of all Ms Ho is now herself.