Second Saturdays Reading #6

Words and photos by Paul Rozario-Falcone

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, played host to August’s Second Saturdays, which happily coincided with Singapore’s National Day. As was our custom, generous guests and readers brought a sumptuous spread of food, and many of us proudly wore red and white in honor of the occasion. We had our biggest crowd yet: 39 guests and readers, including two children!

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After tucking into various dishes, we kicked off the evening with playwright and director Marcus Yi, who showed the musical theater side of his genius by performing two of his original compositions for voice and keyboard: “Little Lovable Pyromaniac” and “Would You Rather Date a Werewolf or a Vampire?”

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We then had British poet Leisha Beardmore treat us to two of her poems: ‘To Pluto, the Former Planet’ and ‘An Ode to the Former Woman’.

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Performance poet Nichole Acosta read two of her poems with aplomb; the first piece was about Singapore and titled ‘Exotic’, while the second was called ‘Sisters’, which Nichole has also performed as a video poem.

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Next we had cartoonist and filmmaker Colin Goh, who read a National day-themed piece he had written for a previous National Day called ‘The Marikita’. Following him was his other half Yen Yen Woo, who read ‘Snapshots of Singapore’, while Nichole Acosta read ‘New York Dreams’ in a duo performance.

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San Francisco-born Kristina Tom then read an extract from her witty novel-in-progress tentatively titled ‘Turtle Mountain’.

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Architect Christopher Chew then introduced a literary translation project that he has been working on. Called ‘Singapore Noveller’, it is a collection of stories that describe early 20th century Singapore written by Danish poet laureate Johannes Wilhelm Jensen; Actress Kiat Sing Teo followed up with an excerpt from it entitled ‘Mrs. D’Almeida’.

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Our featured poet Jason Koo, founder of literary nonprofit Brooklyn Poets then read some of his award-wining poetry. From his second collection America’s Favorite Poem he read ‘A Natural History of My Name’, ‘Model Minority’ and ‘Struck from the Float Forever held in Solution’; his first collection Man on Extremely Small Island was awarded the De Novo Poetry Prize and the Asian American Writers Workshop Members’ Choice Award for the best Asian American book of 2009.

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We closed the evening as we began with a musical tribute to Singapore. Singer/Actress Jeane Reveendran and Actress/ Producer Elizabeth Lazan brought the house down with a performance that was absolutely adorable! They performed a rap called ‘Ode to SingapuRA’. Hope you enjoy the video of this rap/song which can be found here.

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For the next Second Saturdays reading, on September 13, we are taking part in the Manhattan Lit Crawl! The event, to be held in the new St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village, will launch Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore, a special summer issue of MANOA journal, published by the University of Hawai’i Press. From 8:15 to 9:00 pm, three contributors, Jeremy Tiang, Amanda Lee Koe and Jee Leong, will read from the journal. The reading will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Paul Rozario-Falcone. Address and author bios can be found on Facebook.

 

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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