Remember the old alphabet book? How we learned to write? A for Apple. B for Boy. In his book The Arbitrary Sign, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé reassigns the letters of the alphabet in order to speak with the lover, analyst and reader. In his personal and philosophical alphabet, A is for Actuality, B is for Becoming, C is for Cogito, D is for Differance, E is for Event and so on.
You don’t need to know Descartes, Lacan, Heidegger, and Derrida to enjoy this intimate volume, but you do need to listen with an inner ear. The poem for each letter of the alphabet is composed with an ear for Bob Dylan’s lyricism and Walt Whitman’s barbaric yawp. The book is also a visual delight. Each poem is illustrated with a witty graphic design, also done by Kon, all derived from simple geometric shapes and the symbols @, S and 2. The collection is beautifully put together by Red Wheelbarrow Books, Singapore.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helms Squircle Line Press as its founding editor and publisher. He is the author of The Arbitrary Sign (Red Wheelbarrow Books), with I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist (Math Paper Press) forthcoming in 2014. He has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. A former entertainment journalist with 8 Days, Desmond has traveled to Australia, France, Hong Kong and Spain for his stories, which have included features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman, culminating in the authorship of the limited edition Top Ten TCS Stars for Caldecott Publishing. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame. An interdisciplinary artist, Desmond also works in clay, his ceramic works housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. He is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.