entirely too overwhelmed to provide regular updates these days. most of the stuff that happens is visible on Sing Lit Station's social media channels, so I'm not going to update on those projects. but quick round-up of my own stuff:
on the personal front, last year saw:
- the launch of my first personal poetry collection in three years, footnotes on falling. it's about love. plenty of reviews after the jump and you can buy it here.
- the launch of Call and Response, a migrant / local poetry anthology. bringing 30 "migrant" and 30 "local" poets together to write poetic calls and responses, this anthology is the first time (?) we see "local" and "migrant" singaporeans featured on the same (indeed, facing) pages. may there be many more to come. can buy here.
- the second edition of sonnets from the singlish: upsize edition debuting in all its green glory. edition 1 (blue), edition 2 (red), upsize edition (3 or 1) with double the size and an extra essay, and now upsize edition (4 or 2) is here to horrify and entertain you!
this year is extremely unlikely to see a personal creative collection, but you are likely to see:
- an e-book on Farquhar and 1819 as part of the bicentennial, written in verse
- an anthology featuring poets from Singapore literally sparring with their counterparts from the Philippines, co-edited with Martin Villeneuva, called Eleven By Nine.
other projects that are on the backburner and will likely roll into 2020 and beyond:
- a similar dueling anthology with Singapore and Indonesia with the organisers of Paviliun Puisi, Mikael Johani and Gratiagusti Charanya Rompas
- a graphic novel, Ten Stories Below (i know, this is taking forever)
- Farquhar: The Musical
a lot of things are happening so i thought i'd just do a general update post.
1. BooksActually's 24 Hour Bookstore is going down tonight from 7pm to 2am! Buy a brick to support the bookstore and check out plenty of amazing writers - I'll be reading from 1am to 2am alongside Annaliza Bakri. And as a bit of a twist, I won't be reading my own work - I'll be reading favorite stuff from some of the other readers who are going on before me as a bit of a summary - Ang Shuang, Ng Yi-Sheng, and maybe more!
Fri 8 Jun 7pm-2am (i'm 1am-2am), BooksActually, 9 Yong Siak St
2. Note for Note: #skintones is a series of 3 collaborations between musicians and poets - Stephanie Dogfoot will freestyle over the soundscapes of singer-songwriter Zee Aura, Will Beale will rock your world alongside punk musician Haiz Bastard, and I have an original six-section suite which i co-wrote with long-lost collaborator and legendary jazz pianist, Chok Kerong. Check out three styles of music and three styles of poetry for only $10 - get your tickets fast!
Sat 23 Jun 7-9pm, PlayDen @ The Arts House
3. Late Night Poetry @ The Intermission Bar - I won't be done yet that night, because I'm heading to the Intermission Bar @ the Projector (Golden Mile Tower) to read alongside broets Amanda Chong and Daryl Lim Wei Jie. (We recently retreated to HCMC to write together and got absolutely nothing done so this is going to be awesome.) Stick around after our set to check out poetry by the powerpuff trio Pamela Seong Koon, Ang Shuang and Amber Lin, followed by Yeo Tze Hern, Deonn Yang and Samuel Lee all the way till 1am.
Sat 23 Jun 1030pm-1am (we're on 1030-1110), The Intermission Bar @ the Projector
6001 Beach Road, #05-00
Golden Mile Tower, 199589
4. SingPoOnTheBoat. Poets. Reading poetry. On a boat. 'Nuff said. In the grand history of SingPoOnTheMRT and SingPoOnTheBus, please swing by the ferry terminal and bring poems to read (preferably maritime/nautical theme) - if you have a SPWM / SLS t-shirt, wear it, or if not, you can purchase it on the spot - we'll be on a boat for 2 hours (and possibly on Kusu Island for a bit) reading poetry to ourselves and everyone else nonstop! Join us for a crazy morning full of beautiful lines and sun and sea!
Sat 30 Jun 1030am-1240pm
Marina South Pier Ferry Terminal
$18 for Ferry ride.
5. Four Paths to Joy - A Poetry Reading and Discussion - you get to rest after the boat, and then head down to this powerpacked reading that's part of NLB's Read Fest. I put together four poets with four very different approaches to writing - one fierce Alfian Sa'at, anyhow change book Daryl Lim, righteous rebel Deborah Emmanuel, and i didn't know Desmond Kon was a conceptualist. I hope got fighting. I am moderator so I will try and trigger fighting. Yay fighting.
Sat 30 Jun 430-530pm, Multi-Purpose Room, Central Public Library
6. Bilingual Translation Panel - I'll be talking about translation in English and Chinese with Zhou Decheng and Ng Kah Gay, hosted by Agnes Ang from NLB as part of Read Fest. Watch me pretend to be bilingual!
Sun 15 July 2pm-330pm
NLB Building, Level 16 The Pod.
so all of those are my things. below, we still have a ton of events organised by Sing Lit Station in a busy busy month!
1. On Rain - this thematic reading unites Alvin Pang (City of Rain), Clarissa Goenawan (Rainbirds), Eileen Chong (Rainforest) and Mahita Vas (Rain Tree) in what promises to be a drippy event. $10 for tickets and $5 for students
Thu 21 Jun 745-9pm @ Sing Lit Station
3A Jalan Kubor Level 2 Singapore 199201
2. Carnival of Poetry: Fatherhood, at Sing Lit Station - I'm not reading at this one, but this is the regular event put together by the migrant writers of Singapore, where local and migrant poets read alongside each other. Details for this event will be out soon!
Sun 24 Jun 330-5pm @ Sing Lit Station
3A Jalan Kubor Level 2 Singapore 199201
3. Phil and Sarah Kaye in Singapore. Yes, they're back! SLS is hosting them in Singapore at the SRT theatre - event details will be out very soon on Eventbrite, but get ready for an amazing night of spoken word.
Fri 6 July, 730-1030pm @ SRT
BOOK YOUR CALENDARS!!! MANY THINGS HAPPENING!!!!
after a little hiccup with book sizings, the full print run of "footnotes on falling" will be available at BooksActually on 8 Jun, and at Kinokuniya and other bookstores shortly after - do check it out. And if you have some free time, do post a review or photo on social media telling me what you like :)
hey, my first new full-length collection in 5 years is launching on 31 March at 7pm! The event is at Sing Lit Station (3A Jalan Kubor level 2) and will be moderated by the incomparable Amanda Chong. Stick around afterwards for the SingPoWriMo opening party!
a few months earlier i stared at my early Nov calendar and realised i had a 4-way clash:
- Hong Kong International Literary Festival 4-12 Nov
- Singapore Inside Out: Sydney 3-5 Nov
- Singapore Writers Festival 4-12 Nov
- Literature Across Frontiers - Sing Lit Station Translation Bootcamp 1-5 Nov
ok the last two were somewhat by design, as we had intended to stash our international and singaporean translators in a bungalow in malaysia for 5 days leading up to the festival so they could showcase their material in a reading at the festival (though it did mean they would miss half the first weekend of events)
- i wanted to attend HKILF to launch Twin Cities: an anthology of twin cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong, co-authored with the Empress of Cha, Tammy Ho Lai-Ming;
- i wanted to go for SGIO to put on an exhibition of prints from Ten Stories Below, my infinitely-work-in-progress graphic novel with Tim Wang and Adam Jay;
- i wanted to go for SWF because, well, SWF;
- and i wanted to go for the LAF-SLS bootcamp because SLS was hosting 4 european poet-translators alongside 4 southeast asian poet-translators, and alexandra buchler, the director of LAF was in town too, so i felt a bit of host responsibilities.
but the 4-way clash meant i had to make sub-optimal decisions for all:
- i would have to bail entirely on SGIO and count on the team to put up the exhibition.
- i would have to mostly bail on LAF-SLS and count on the SLS team to run the show, because i couldn't get any more leave (because of previous bali / vietnam exertions) but in concession to my sense of hostiness, i would drive up to malaysia on thursday night after work to hang out with them for dinner... and then drive back.
- i would attend the opening ceremony of SWF on friday, and a sprinkling of SWF events on sunday (more on this...)
- i would fly to hk first thing in the morning on friday, do the launch, do a reading at night, and fly back to sg first thing in the morning on saturday.
so here we go.
at this point i must pause and say that twin cities is really quite an amazing (toot our own horn) collection. you can read more about it at the minisite, or buy it from this webstore, but it's really a foundational collection that keys both on the connection between hong kong and singapore, and on this amazing form that yeow kai chai pioneered and david wong further developed, to some extent after ashbery. landmark did a bang-up job on the iconic cover and the squareish, spacious design leaving tons of breathing space for the lines. and i'm really happy we got an even representation of hk and singapore poets, with big dollops of the younger generation coming forward to show their formal chops.
i've fiddled with quite a few twin cinema myself over the past month, none of which are in this book, but if this goes on i might be able to put out my own twin cinema collection after a year or two...? i do want to work with tammy and cha again - let's see when the next collaboration will happen!
aaand i experienced another rush back to singapore - by planning myself on a 7am flight back. i thought i could check in in the city - but when i got there the scoot counter wasn't manned. i waited and waited and finally was informed that the 7am scoot flight to SG was the ONE FLIGHT that did not allow in-city check in. so i boarded the first airport express at... 6am, and hit the airport with 40 mins left. i reached the scoot counter with 30 mins, which was in a different terminal, only to be informed that the takeoff gate was IN A DIFFERENT TERMINAL and that i probably wasn't going to make it but they would still check me in as a courtesy. there was another guy in my situation just in front of me who was dithering a bit, but when i got my ticket i took off running with my book luggage clattering behind me and after a moment's hesitation he started running after me. i hit immigration at a full sprint, ducked into the diplomatic queue mouthing EMERGENCY EMERGENCY and they waved me through (i think i lost my tail here, he went to the normal queue), and i made it on the plane with minutes to spare. so that's two dramatic plane trips in two weeks - my dear heart.
and after all this... SWF started. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
so i went to bali nominally to attend APWT's annual conference, but then kicked off what Amanda Chong calls a "tragicomedy of errors".
let's just do a visual narrative of this literal shitshow via my fb feed...
how does one explain the ajar a-festival?
i find myself flipping through my photo roll again. Watch this 20 second video.
random paper planes filled with printed questions being thrown around a hipster cafe while people read poetry in the background and a media projection appears in the background with no lights on.
does that describe a-festival better?
"the festival i enjoyed most in my entire career as a traveling writer". is that better? here, back to random photos.
another video, this one a workshop hosted by Greg Nissan and Jake Schneider, the editors of Berlin-based SAND journal - in which they challenge us to translate the untranslatable! including horrible monsters like Hamid Roslan's "This One Also Sonnet". (foreshadowing: Hamid's work is actually translated a few weeks later into 6 languages in the Sing Lit Station-Literature Across Frontiers Translation Bootcamp in Malaysia...)
at times it seems like the festival navigated every hipster venue in vietnam possible. not for them the traditional conference room or air-conditioned office space, or even the repurposed black box or school lecture hall. every single venue involved a mysterious street number which showed no signs of habitation from the main road, then a jaunt down an abandoned alley, a twist under an awning or a climb up a hidden stair past old men smoking or dripping rain, and then poof, magic hipster cafe on rooftop.
very much the heart of the festival - the amazing organising team of kaitlin rees, nha thuyen, quyen and hai yen. (and yen san, small boy). just in terms of the embrace of multi-disciplinary, inter-language madness that they consort in (while running a multi-city festival), they are so far ahead of singapore writers that i cannot even explain. what is confessionalism? what are our silly forms? these girls are really pushing the envelope of language as art as translation as movement as i do not know what is going on.
please invite me back please please please please.
many things. where do i start?
1. SING LIT BODY SLAM
oh, here. how do i explain this nonsense?
the world's first collaborative multi-genre theatrical smorgasbord extravaganza between professional wrestling and performance poetry. yeah that doesn't really mean anything. what was Sing Lit Body Slam about?
(unless otherwise indicated (watermark shots from Grapple Max and the last group shot), all photos are copyright Jon Gresham 2017 igloomelts.com)
anf- - Carthere are no words.
but here are a bunch from online sites archived on our webpage.
here too, also is a mini-essay by Hamid Roslan, excerpted here:
"Thus the essential point of why the entire thing damn well worked: poetry was told to inhabit bodies and speak, or otherwise tackle an adversary to the ground. But it was not told to lie low in printer ink and play enigma. It was strangely ironic to watch David Wong’s persona as Mr. Uppity-Highbrow-Poetry in the first segment participate in this somatising of poetry (always the highbrow child of the arts) even as ‘he’ denigrated the smelly classrooms ‘he’ would teach poetry to less-privileged kids in. All not real, you see— and yet, there he was. "
just a smattering of hyperbole:
"Complete and utter GENIUS!!!" - Carolyn Oei
"Mad good mix of wrestling and poetry" - Min Lim
"Sticks and stones have nothing on this shit. 😏Blown away at #singlitbodyslam 😍" - Zhihui Ho
"it was the craziest idea to combine pro-wrestling with poetry. but was it crazy enough to work? HELL YES. so glad we came to see this historic moment in singapore arts history..." - Jocelyn Suarez
and a slightly longer review:
"The #SingLitBodySlam was wild! This was really wrestling as theatre, as the wrestlers unabashedly took on larger than life personas with patently staged moves while poets yelled verses at each other to embody warring binaries: poken word vs page poetry, Raffles vs Farquhar, English vs Singlish. This was not always consistently poetic but it was visually spectacular and wonderfully nuts. #sglitftw #sglitwtf"
- Ng Yi-Sheng
and of course, some thoughts from the poets themselves:
"I've spent hours on YouTube watching wrestling videos and documentaries, days at Sing Lit Station with other writers collaborating on pieces, trips to Grapple MAX Dojo to take wrestling lessons(!) and devise something that could be described as "experimental performance improvised theatre spoken word", but it's the sweatiest and grimiest and LOUDEST I've gotten as a writer and a spoken word poet." - Joses Ho
"there was a time when people said "wtf how the hell would anyone combine poetry and pro wrestling"... but we did." - Stephanie Chan
"I mean, how many people can say they got to verbally castrate a historical figure with incisive rhymes while wearing a regimental outfit?? (Well, other than the cast of Hamilton...)" - Rajita Jay
If you were where I was tonight, I've got two words to say to ya: THANK YOU
Thank you for giving this weird brainchild a chance; this could've been a creative bastard child but you gave it a home, you made it legit, you made the show stand on its feet by getting on your feet."
....those who weren't there, you'll have to wait for tomorrow to catch more....OR DARE I SAY #SINGLITBODYSLAM 2 ?!?!" - David Wong
finally, more self-absorbed masturbation by me.
and i think that is all i have to say for a while.
...until SING LIT BODY SLAM 2!!!!
it's going to be a chaotic next few months but I'm going one month at a time:
1. I'll be reading at LaSalle on Wed 27 Sep from 730-9pm, together with Amanda Chong, Cyril Wong, Marc Nair, and LaSalle's own Chris Mooney-Singh and Darryl Whetter. If you're in the area, drop by! Event page isn't up yet, but I'll keep you posted when it happens - its usually at the LaSalle Library.
2. Sing Lit Body Slam 6 and 7 Oct. This is the biggest thing Sing Lit Station has done since its inception - put poets together with wrestlers for a mindblowing hybrid event. Pairs of poets will be waging lyrical warfare with each other across the ring, while pairs of wrestlers, each representing a poet as their avatar, do actual combat via the art of pro wrestling. Think of it as an extra exciting form of physical theatre married with words - or as a very literary style of commentating on a wrestling match.
The first night is $30, and the second "Fundraiser Night" is $90. What do you get for the 2nd night for paying 3x the price? Well, it's really a big push to fill Sing Lit Station's annual budget, so all ticket sales for the 2nd night will be tax-deductible at a special 250% rate (at peak tax rates, that's basically $40 of value!) You'll also get two complimentary alcoholic drinks, and there'll be poets bashing out typewriter poetry at the side which you can bring home and keep! But think of it first and foremost as a charitable donation. Please come sappork!!!
More is coming soon:
October is AJAR Festival in Vietnam, APWT in Indonesia, LAF-SLS Translation Retreat in Malaysia, the twin launch of Twin Cities in HK Int' Lit Fest and SWF, a Ten Stories Below installation at Singapore: Inside Out in Sydney, poetry.sg expanding into Malay, launching a new Southeast Asian Prize at SWF, new writing groups reading at the festival bookstore, a pedagogical songs project (Stories We Sing) being presented at SWF, a few random SWF panels, and my own 4th collection of poetry being launched (!!!!).
after that i'm going to collapse and die.
1. Yes, it's National Day soon. In light of that, I've put together a selection of local poets trading keys and notes with local musicians and called it KEY NOTE SPEAKER - Daryl Qilin Yam with Chris Jones, and David Wong with Vick Low, led off with a special set by poetry slam champions Rajita Jay and Neil Basu - check this out at the Esplanade Concourse completely free on Tue 8 Aug and Mon 14 Aug, at 7pm (there'll be a short intermission after the first pair and then a 7.45 set with the second pair). There'll also be a book table with a selection from Math Paper Press, so bring some money!
2. team SLS is rocking up to the Singapore Coffee Fest, which is now in a brand new ALL air conditioned venue at Marina Bay Cruise Centre! I'll be on a panel about my after-work career with other many-ECA-ed people Declan Ee and Rachael Leong, hosted by Rachel Au Yong at 2pm on Sat 5 Aug, and on the next day (Sun 6 Aug) at 1pm, i'll be hosting a pairing of writers with artists as Dan Wong and James Tan translate the poetry of Jennifer Champion and Felix Cheong into art! multi-disciplinary seems to be the flavor of the month. beyond those speaking events, Raksha Mahtani, David Wong, Marylyn Tan, Tse Hao Guang, Steph Dogfoot and Daryl Lim will be banging out poetry on coffee cups (i have measured out my life with coffee spoons!) every day from Fri the 4th to Sunday the 6th from 630pm-830pm - grab a cuppa with them!
3. Finally, I have a bit of poetry out in Mexican literary journal Ofi Press, available after the jump - it's called Destination.
when i have some time i want to say a few words about stuff that just happened (Unfree Verse launch, If Walls Could Talk / Spill The Ink in KL, Foresight Conference) - and stuff that's going to happen (Sing Lit Body Slam, A-Festival, and APWT in Bali)... but that's for another post!
a singaporean poet with an unhealthy addiction to metrical forms.
you can buy any of my titles at:
- booksactually (9 yong siak st)
- online here (they deliver internationally). the buylinks are below:
all content copyright of joshua ip 2012