How to Read a Singaporean Poem

From The Arts House in Singapore:

“Gwee Li Sui’s 2013 hit series Sing Lit 101: How to Read a Singaporean Poem returns for a second season! The good doctor will give six new lectures, each on a major English poem from Singapore’s literary history. This time, he will move into the heart of verse during the nation-building decades and wrestle with the spirit of the age that provoked poets in distinct ways. The six poems will be unpacked for a whole sweep of riveting meanings and implications.”

The following poems will be discussed by Dr. Gwee:

September 27 – Robert Yeo’s “Proximities to Vietnam”

October 11 – Kirpal Singh’s “Crossing Over”

October 25 – Elangovan’s “Nocturne”

November 15 – Leong Liew Geok’s “Women without Men”

November 29 – Heng Siok Tian’s “My City, My Canvas”

December 13 – Boey Kim Cheng’s “Change Alley”

The program promises further that “each lecture will take you on a passionate journey that should shed light on seemingly period-specific poetry. Without question, if you struggle with appreciating poetry as an art form or Singaporean literature in general, this is the place to start. Gwee’s talks are notably accessible and always insightful. Regardless of your age or background, you will be charmed by his textual readings and drawn to the work and value of verse in your life!”



Dr Gwee Li Sui is a poet, a graphic artist, and a literary critic. His works of verse include Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998) and One Thousand and One Nights(2014). He also wrote Singapore’s first full-length graphic novel in English, Myth of the Stone (1993), which appeared in a special twentieth-anniversary edition last year. A familiar name in Singapore’s literary scene, Gwee has written on a range of cultural subjects and is well-loved for his instruction on Singaporean literature. He edited Sharing Borders: Studies in Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian Literature II (2009), Telltale: Eleven Stories (2010), andMan/Born/Free: Writings on the Human Spirit from Singapore (2011) and wrote FEAR NO POETRY!: An Essential Guide to Close Reading (2014).

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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