Raising Land from the Sea

Appropriately for our 100th post, SP is proud to announce the publication of a special issue of Singapore poetry in Blue Lyra Review, guest-edited by SP curator Jee Leong Koh. The American journal, headed by M. E. Silverman, “aims to unite writers and artists from a diverse array of backgrounds, paying special homage to Jewish voices and those from other underrepresented communities.” The Singapore issue joins a Turkish poetry issue in a growing roster of international voices in the journal.

10 established and emerging Singapore poets contribute new poems to the issue. The contributors are Leong Liew Geok, Yeow Kai Chai, Grace Chia, Alvin Pang, Christine Chia, Cyril Wong, Pooja Nansi, Aaron Maniam, Tania De Rozario and Joshua Ip. As guest-editor Koh writes in his postscript, “A new poem is a cause for celebration. These 27 poems, by ten poets from Singapore writing in English, give 27 causes.” If an additional cause is necessary for celebration, the issue was published on August 9, Singapore’s National Day.

Koh ends his postscript by giving his sense of what the country’s poets are up to. He writes, “In Salman Rushdie’s postcolonial novel Midnight’s Children, the minor character Dr. Narlikar pursues a fantasy of reclaiming land from the sea through the use of tetrapods. He is ultimately unsuccessful and dies of his obsession. Singapore, with characteristic vision and patience, completed recently a massive land reclamation project south of the island and built on the new land a casino. The country’s poets are engaged in a similar venture. True, instead of a casino, they are building a parliament of the imagination. They are, however, also raising land from the sea.”

 

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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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