stuff stuff. yes i've been busy.
on saturday i'm off to melbourne for a couple of weeks with Alvin Pang and a gaggle of young Singaporean writers for an intercultural studio with Sreedevi Iyer from RMIT Creative Writing, culminating in an event at MWF - that'll also be the launch of the 2nd WrICE anthology, The Near and the Far, which I contributed a digestif to.
but i'm most excited really about having two weeks to sit down, away from the day job, and write. much of it will be spent working on my PhD submission for Practice Research Seminars, the next of which is coming up in HCMC in September, but thankfully in PRS, "the practice is the research" or so they say.
i've been somewhat overwhelmed over the last few years, but i managed to sieve through the output of 2 SingPoWriMos and 2 SEAPoWriMos to dig up material to fire off to a few of my favorite journals, which is yay for productivity, but a sadface because along the way i realised a bunch of them have died / went dormant. alas.
perhaps i should put some poems here and make my little corner of the internet a bit more alive.
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
footnotes on falling is out! you can buy it from booksactually at this link or in kino and other bookstores. meanwhile, here's a smattering of words about these words. i strongly recommend Jerome Lim's epic review note that i feel obliged to refer to if/when i begin my PhD in practice...
""(I)n certain urgent/ cities," writes Ip in his fourth poetry collection, "words left too/long out cool, curdle/ or clot." In 44 wry, self-deprecating poems, he navigates the detritus of relationships with a smattering of ekphrasis, wordplay through translation and poetic forms, such as the twin cinema and the liwuli. Mind the endnotes." - Olivia Ho, The Straits Times (link)
"Ip recognises that moving on is a matter of perspective, where things that seem to fall are in reality moving upwards, where words that once felt devastatingly serious, and names that once seemed significant, are in reality unimportant as time goes on. This, and not defensive erasure, is how closure is eventually found." - Jerome Lim (full review)
"...as we progress through the text the sheer eccentricity of Ip's worldview come to the fore with unexpected images and daring games of language--all this mixed in with genuine accounts of dealing with heartbreak....Ip manages to balance a commitment to experimentation with honest emotion." - Ng Yi-Sheng (link)
"Footnotes on Falling is as much a pensive meditation on the poet's passage through life, with all its vicissitudes, as it is a love letter to the Singaporean form. It is equal parts bitter and acceptance, love and apathy, falling and being caught."
- Valen Lim (link)
"there is a quiet poignancy and playfulness in this collection, something subdued and sad but doesn't take itself so seriously. one may call it a dignified resignation, a cynicism, a play on play on words. or perhaps, it's just the slow maturity of life not unlike the ripening of a fruit, transforming from fresh sour to bittersweet." - Jocelyn Suarez (link)
"This is a post-UnFree Verse Joshua, seemingly more aware of his poetic prowess, and with great power comes great trollsponsibility."
- Crispin Rodrigues (link)
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!!!!
a singaporean poet with an unhealthy addiction to forms.
all content copyright of joshua ip 2012