The Point of Arrival

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Tania De Rozario’s artwork “The Point of Arrival,” inspired by Cyril Wong’s poem “Arrival,” at Geylang East Public Library (Singapore, 2012)

 

From the artist’s website: “The Point of Arrival” was created as a response to Cyril Wong’s poem … and as part of the National Arts Council’s LAVA Project. The two characters Wong speaks of, sit across from one another at a table, and communicate through a mixture of sign language and written word – an effort comprising both visual and textual means. In this art object, thread, a material mentioned in the poem, is used to map out physical spaces between, through and around them and to cite an excerpt from the text. Like the poem, it combines both visual and textual material in an effort to make itself understood.

 

Arrival
by Cyril Wong

During our first few dates, we
scribbled our confessions on paper,

sending them like fast-forward
letters back and forth across the table.

Then you relented and taught me sign-
language, demonstrating how “like”

is the drawing forth of an invisible
string from the centre of your chest

like a loosened thread, freed from
the constraining fabric of your body,

while “love” is the crossing of
both arms in an act of self-defence

and a warning, or simply that “X”
which marks the point of arrival

upon the very treasure map of you.

 

Reprinted with the author’s permission, the poem appears in Below: Absence by Cyril Wong (Firstfruits Publications, 2002).

 

ProfilePhotoTan

Tania De Rozario is an artist, writer and curator interested in issues of gender and sexuality. Co-founder of EtiquetteSG, and winner of the 2011 NAC-SPH Golden Point Award for English Poetry, she is the author of Tender Delirium (Math Paper Press | 2013), which was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize. She is currently penning her second full-length book, And The Walls Come Crumbling Down.

Tania is an alumna of Hedgebrook (USA) and Sangam House (India), and is an Associate Artist with The Substation (Singapore), where she is currently working on Making Trouble, a research project documenting links between activism and visual arts in post-2000 Singapore. She has showcased her visual work in London, Spain, Amsterdam, Singapore and San Francisco.

On the side, Tania freelances as an art-writer and art-educator. She teaches at Drawing at The Substation and Contemporary Contextual Studies at LASALLE College of the Arts.

 

Artistry

Cyril Wong has been called a confessional poet, according to The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry, based on “the brutally candid sexuality in his poetry, along with a barely submerged anxiety over the fragility of human connection and a relentless self-querying”. He is the Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of poetry collections such as Unmarked Treasure, Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light, The Dictator’s Eyebrow and After You. He has also published Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories and a novel, The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza. Cyril has served as a mentor under the Creative Arts Programme and the Mentor Access Project, as well as a judge for the Golden Point Awards in Singapore. A past recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature, he completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. His poems have been anthologised in Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W. W. Norton 2008) and Chinese Erotic Poems (Everyman’s Library 2007).

 

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.

2 comments

  1. Donna Smith

    Both the poem and the artwork are lovely and can stand alone, but I often find a poem and a photo enhance each other – give each other more depth of field and dimension – which I thought “happened” very effectively by first seeing the photos of Tania De Rozario’s artwork, then reading Cyril Wong’s poem. Good choice to do that. (I also like that Singapore Poetry isn’t limited to just written works.)

    Donna Smith

    Like

  2. Thanks, Donna, for your lovely comment.

    Like

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