Singapore’s Favorite Poem

Euginia Tan, a writer, nominates Madeleine Lee’s poem “curlers” as her favorite: “It’s very organic, much like a series of sketches from a seasoned artist’s musings, retaining the childish nostalgia of recalling lost years.”



regular morning at the reservoir
a sudden smell
gnawing from the farthest reach
an image of my mother
in her thirties by her dresser
the sight of hairbrushes and hairpins
the scent of helene curtis hair net spray
the thick cloying smell of her curlers
a sudden chill strew the morning with
guileless ivory blossoms on the jungle floor
shaped like teeth from a prehistoric rodent skull

by Madeleine Lee


Reprinted with the author’s permission, the poem was first published in synaesthesia (2008) by firstfruits publications.



Madeleine Lee


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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