I remember a period of time in the '90s where you would still actively see poetry in the pages of the ST, in Life. Like actual poems, commissioned about various events, not just book reviews. Oh, and the poetry book reviews then would be half-page dos with glossy photo, not the single column you get these days... You'd even find the odd image of a poet or two (perhaps once a year or so) on the front cover of Life. And then it died an unheralded death somewhere along the way.
So I volunteered to write random satirical bits for The Middle Ground a while back, because - poetry shouldn't, can't, mustn't disappear from mainstream notice. It shouldn't be cloistered in the high halls of academia, or the reference sections of the National Library. It needs to get out there. Even if it means getting its hands dirty. (My run lasted only a few months before I had to tap out for the master pun-ster Felix Cheong himself, but I'll be coming back very soon.)
Back to the Straits Times: poetry still peeks out of random nooks and crannies in Life, but thanks to the efforts of Chua Mui Hoong, it's coming back in a big way in the Opinion section of the main paper - real serious all! After the obligatory piece by Prof Thumboo and some fiery work by Tania de Rozario in the past weeks, I have a satirical poem in today's Opinion section, next to the brilliance of Amanda Lee Koe. Though my piece is really for the lulz, please do go and read hers. Shots fired!
Maggie Tiojakin talked to me a while back to submit poetry to the Jakarta Post in another newly launching initiative, and it's actually happened, oddly, on the same day that my ST piece dropped, i.e. today. She picked a piece - tongues - from "making love with scrabble tiles" that I thought was uniquely Singaporean/ Singlish-focused, and hence incomprehensible to "foreigners". Till I realised that the same awkwardness of an evolved, Asian, multi-cultural patois in a mono-angmoh Western context translated pretty well. I've sent in a pile of other pieces to the Post, and am hoping to create that Southeast Asian bridge - in the months to come, I'm going to try dragging other SG writers across too - we have a lot we can share, and a lot we can learn from a place different in many ways yet kind of same same in many others.
Lastly, this weekend kicks off yet another newly launching initiative - "That's Life", a literary podcast pioneered by Lydia Vasko for the Straits Times. Alvin Pang, Deborah Emmanuel and me were locked in a studio in ST for more than an hour, and much passion ensued. Ostensibly we were there to talk about SingPoWriMo but it kind of ran wild, as events with Alvin Pang tend to do. I mumbled a lot but managed to sneak in a first reading of my crazy flying sushi duel poem from SingPoWriMo '16 as a sample of the madness that goes down.
People are beginning to pay attention to the poetry we have at home - or at least journalists are. Stay tuned for more developments and the launch of... deng deng deng... SING LIT STATION!
POETRY. IS. COMING.
No energy to write about it yet, but here's a bunch of links from mainstream/alternative/student media - the movement is gaining traction!
"Book-ends", Lee Jianxuan, The Straits Times, 3 Apr 2016
"Singapore poetry in motion", Daryl Chin, The Straits Times, 1 May 2016
"Thirty Days, Thirty Poems", Shao Kai Chng, Kent Ridge Common, 1 May 2016
"This interactive MRT map features a poem for every individual MRT station", Thet Nyi Nyi, mothership.com, 28 Apr 2016
"Spend Monday clicking through this poetry map of the Singapore MRT", Mrigaa Sethi, SG.Asia-City.com, 25 Apr 2016
a singaporean poet with an unhealthy addiction to forms.
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