7:34 pm 14 notes
Q: First of all, I think many people would like to know, what is the main source of inspiration for your poetry?
Real life is always a good place to start. And I think it’s important to realize that there is so much material that is poetry-worthy in the mundane and the everyday, the small and familiar and neglected things of our lives. One reviewer once mentioned that my subjects were “crass and unbefitting of the sonnet form”, and I think he totally gets me – I want to write about the Pilot pens and tissue paper packets of the world, the birdshit on car windscreens and couples making out in public parks, the Disney/vampire/zombie/ninja stories – and yes, all these can serve as metaphors for loftier, cheem-er thoughts if that’s really necessary. If you’re willing to be sensitive to the smallest and humblest things around you and the lessons they can teach, you will never lack for inspiration.
Q: Your poetry are considered unorthodox, with the inclusion of Singlish, and even at times, dialects. How do you usually go about doing that, and how do you think people respond to those poems?
Oh, nonsense. Singaporean poets have been writing in Singlish since before I was born. Arthur Yap’s “2 mothers in a hdb playground” was written in 1980 (I was born in 1982), and that’s like the flagship Singlish poem of all time. No one came around to me and asked me to give Sonnets from the Singlish a R-rating because it contains Singlish and Hokkien and lots of swearing – that might have happened twenty years ago. But this is 2014. Flip through any poetry anthology by a Singaporean, and odds are you will find a Singlish reference in the majority of them. I just appear to be a bit more balls up about it with the title.
And despite my first collection being titled “sonnets from the singlish” – it really isn’t a Singlish collection. There’s, say, 1.5 poems that are all-out Singlish, and there’s a sprinkling of Singlish in maybe 7-8 others, of a 44-poem collection. I was really just riffing off Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portugese” (also 44 sonnets), so following that, “Singlish” in my title really refers to either (1) a Singaporean person, or (2) an exotic foreign language that these poems are translated into English from.
That said, I do engage with Singaporean identity in my collection, by design or not. I wouldn’t say there was a deliberate effort to deliver a very Singaporean collection, because the majority of the poems were written in a one-month “write-a-poem-every-day” self-challenge. When you have to write a poem a day, there really is no room for silly artifice – you write what comes to mind, in the form you are most familiar with. The latter happened to be sonnets, and the former happened to be (for the most part) experiences and concerns growing up in Singapore in the 1990s. So I think people who don’t share those experiences may not really get my collection, but those who do will really get it. Poetry can turn out to be exclusive like that, in both senses of the word.
Q: You’ve published short stories in numerous anthologies and online journals, but have you ever thought of publishing short stories?
After figuring out that I wasn’t completely useless at this prose thing, I dutifully started assembling pieces for a collection of short stories. The working title is “ex machina” (which I think means “out of the machine”), and it’s shaping up to be very robot-ty. I like robots. I think we’ve reached the stage in our technological development (at least in Singapore) where you can have an entire collection about machines and tech and things that go beep beep boop boop without it being called “science fiction.”
Q: You’ve recently led the Singapore Poetry Month back in April, the response from the public and obscure writers was great! Would you be organizing anymore of such movements in the near future?
SingPoWriMo (Singapore Poetry Writing Month) was a blast, and so much good has come out of it for the still-growing literary scene in Singapore. I’m just going to touch on three things.
First, a bunch of the moderators – Alvin Pang, Pooja Nansi, Ann Ang and myself – have been putting together a collection to feature the best poems from SingPoWriMo ‘14. You can pop along to the link below and send us some love (i.e. money), and in return receive exciting rewards like limited-edition prints and exclusively commissioned poems by the editors. We’re hoping to launch the collection at SWF this year!
Next, many of the bright new voices from SingPoWriMo have been banding together to form regular writing workshops to get honest and hard-hitting peer critique on their work, with minor assistance from a few of us older people. Two of these groups – the Image-Symbol Department and the Ministry of Noise – will be presenting their work at a special reading at SWF this year entitled “The Eye of the Beholder”, so watch out for that in the SWF programme!
Finally, SingPoWriMo has hopped languages and become ChingPoWriMo, or rather, 一首诗的时间(One Poem’s Time <= bad translation)! A bunch of Singaporean Chinese writers from NTU TrendLit kicked off a similar write-a-poem-a-day challenge after chatting with us SingPoWriMo survivors, and are going through similar torture now through the month of September. Their work has even sparked the interest of Lianhe Zaobao, so I’m looking forward to see the group grow from strength to strength.
Q: I understand that you are also a ‘karaoke king’ (K ge zhi wang), if you were to choose one song to sing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
There’s way too much Jay Chou, Emil Chou, Stefanie Sun and Jacky Cheung to pin it down to one. But if it was an English song, I’d pick John Legend’s “Ordinary People.”
10:22 pm 62 notes
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."
—from The Tempest by William Shakespeare
7:50 pm 22 notes
Enjoy this exclusive cross parody comic in the weeks to come; of BooksActually’s CAKE X Kenfoo’s A WONDERFUL LIFE.
A Wonderful Life is a funny comic diary by Kenfoo, launching in Late-September. Written and drawn In a distinctly humorous style, it features astute observations of the mundane and other hilarious and irreverent musings. Enjoy the Cake strips and have a good laugh while anticipating the official launch of A Wonderful Life soon!
5:38 pm 726 notes
"I barely know you, she says, voice heavy with sleep. I don’t know your favourite color or how you like your coffee. What keeps you up at night or the lullabies that sing you to sleep. I don’t know a thing about the first girl you loved, why you stopped loving her or why you still do.
I don’t know how many millions of cells you are made of and if they have any idea they are part of something so beautiful and unimaginably perfect.
I may not have a clue about any of these things, but this—she places her hand on his chest—this I know.”
—from Lullabies by Lang Leav
2:47 pm 16 notes
THE SEXUAL LIFE OF CATHERINE M
by Catherine Millet
A national best-seller that was featured on such lists as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly, The Sexual Life of Catherine M. was the controversial sleeper hit of the year. Since her youth, Catherine Millet, the eminent editor of Art Press, has led an extraordinarily active and free sexual life — from al fresco encounters in Italy to a gang bang on the edge of the Bois du Boulogne to a high-class orgy at a chichi Parisian restaurant. A graphic account of sex stripped of sentiment, of a life of physical gratification and a relentlessly honest look at the consequences — both liberating and otherwise — have created this candid, powerful, and deeply intelligent depiction of unfettered sexuality.
1:59 pm 41 notes
As our eyes trembled to close,
we found a new word upon our lips.
It rolled like a mystery inside
the room of two mouths, warm
with desire, silent as memory.
We grew a dark sensation then.
The tips of our fingers carved
into each other’s backs in terror.
For an hour, I saw you from
within my mouth, beautiful as
a poem without a reader.
—from One Thousand and One Nights by Gwee Li Sui
11:31 am 33 notes
She must have had quite a life
For her eyes to call out so
Urgently. How else could she sing
Of love, of how it stings part
Black words into ears ?
She must have touched hundreds
to possess that stage.
Through our eyes we proffered
Her a concentration of sorrows;
They fell heavily
As a shawl upon her shoulders.
Her voice then left
Her trapped body
fumbling for heaven.
—from The Confusion of Happiness by Michelle Tan
10:00 pm 10 notes
The official Singapore Art Book Fair postcards have arrived! Catch them at a location near you!
10:44 am 5 notes
Have you heard? Singapore Art Book Fair is coming back this November! We have just updated our website with our new visuals. Stayed tuned for more as we continue to confirm our vendors, retailers, fringe events, workshops, activities and more!
Date: 14th to 16th November 2014
Venue: Gillman Barracks, Block 43