Second Saturdays Reading Series #4
Written by Kenneth Lim, with photos by Kimberley Lim and Paul and Al Rozario-Falcone
It was a case of bare feet and bared souls on June 14 as over 30 people gathered at yoga studio Yumcha Yoga for the June edition of Second Saturdays, a monthly series held in New York City dedicated to the reading of Singaporean and American literature.
Hosted by husband-wife team Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo, who run the Flushing yoga studio, the evening saw both emerging and established Singaporean writers share their work. Recent NYU graduate Kenneth Lim read three original poems. Writer-playwright Jeremy Tiang shared his piece, “The Stars Are God’s Disco Ball”, while performer Shawn Chua gave a dramatic performance of poems written by Singapore Literature Festival chair Paul Rozario, and featured writer Christine Chia. Publishing assistant Kimberley Lim read a poem from her University of Virgina capstone thesis, while teacher Melissa Wong shared three poems of her own. And it was Yen Yen herself, also a Singapore Literature Festival featured writer, who closed the first half of the evening, telling a poignant story about her daughter’s encounters with the mother tongue.
Jeremy Tiang reading “The Stars Are God’s Disco Balls”
Shawn Chua reading poems by Paul Rozario-Falcone and Christine Chia
Kimberley Lim reading her poems
Melissa Wong reading her poems
Yen Yen Woo, stand-up extraordinaire
Guests were then treated to a brief but magical musical interlude as acclaimed thereminist Shueh-li Ong performed three songs, including a synth-infused rendition of Ava Maria. Shueh-li, a Singaporean based in Nashville, is known as Singapore’s “first and only diva of the theremin,” having recorded with musicians like Dean Parks of Steely Dan, Leann Rimes’ bassist, Curtis Randall, and Shelley Carrol of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Shueh-li Ong playing her theremin
The second half of the evening belonged to the writers of Singapore Noir, a newly published anthology by Akashic Books. Edited by New York based journalist and author Cheryl Tan, the book comprises stories set in distinct Singaporean neighborhoods or locations, exposing the city state in “all its noir glory.”
Damon Chua read an excerpt from his story, “Saiful and the Pink Edward VII”, while Singapore Literature Festival featured writer Colin Goh read from his piece, “Last Time.” And fittingly, it was Cheryl who closed the intimate literary evening in Queens with a snippet from her story, “Reel.”
“I chose a setting close to my heart—the kelongs, or old fisheries on stilts, that once dotted the waters of Singapore but are gradually disappearing,” the Singapore Literature Festival featured writer says in the book’s introduction. “I have a deep sense of romance about these kelongs, along with the many other settings, characters, nuances, and quirks that you’ll see in these stories.”
Damon Chua reading from “Saiful and the Pink Edward VII”
Colin Goh reading from “Last Time”
Cheryl Tan, editor of Singapore Noir, reading from “Reel”
The Second Saturdays Reading Series is a monthly platform in New York City for the reading of Singaporean and American literatures. Taking place in different intimate locations around the city, the series will culminate in the Singapore Literature Festival, a three-day festival open to the public held in New York City on October 10, 11, and 12, 2014.
For more information on the next reading, taking place on Saturday, July 12, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Purchase your copy of Singapore Noir at Akashic Books!