Singapore’s Favorite Poem

Hao Guang Tse, an English MA student and writer, nominates “After Word,” a poem by Lee Jing-Jing. Hao comments, “”After Words” reveals elegance, slyness and surprise contained within the most stereotyped but still most really Singaporean word of them all.”

After Word

The words snake out of my mouth before I can stop them.
Braiding the ends of sentences,

keeping them tied up with a velvet ribbon,
or left loose

to unfurl slowly in the hours after.
Hear the difference between

Shut up, and
Shut up, la.

The last word hiding in it the curve of a smile,
making a blow land light as a kiss.

by Lee Jing-Jing

Published in Moving Words 2011: A Poetry Anthology, edited by Alvin Pang, The Literary Centre, (Singapore), 2011.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

Read another poem by Lee Jing-Jing.


About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

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