Second Saturdays Celebrates First Birthday

Words by Jee Leong Koh, and images by Deedle Tomlinson and Paul Rozario-Falcone

 

On February 7, the Second Saturdays Reading Series celebrated its first year in the Brooklyn home of Paul and Al Rozario-Falcone’s. We were very honored that the wonderful novelist Monique Truong, author of The Book of Salt and Bitter in the Mouth, read as the feature of this special occasion.

It was a year ago when Paul and Al hosted a gathering of Singaporean writers and creatives to plan the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in New York City. As the festival co-chairs, Paul and Jee Leong Koh, described their vision, the enthusiastic response from all present was truly heartwarming. Colin Goh suggested starting a monthly literary event in the run-up to the festival that would help rally support. This idea was embraced by the festival organizing committee and so the Second Saturdays Reading Series, named for the day of the gathering, was born.

From the start, the reading series has been a platform for the reading of Singaporean and American literatures in various intimate venues around New York City. The reading begins with a delicious potluck around which introductions and conversations take place. After the open reading, the feature shares his or her work. In the last year, the reading was hosted by Guy E. Humphrey and Jee Leong Koh, Jeremy Tiang and Drayton Hiers, Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo, Win Lubin and Damon Chua, and St. Mark’s Bookshop (under the auspices of the Manhattan Lit Crawl). We have featured Christine Chia, Martha Cooley, Damon Chua, Colin Goh, A. Naomi Jackson, Amanda Lee Koe, Jee Leong Koh, Jason Koo, Joseph Legaspi, Vijay Seshadri, Cheryl Tan, and Jeremy Tiang.

We were delighted when Monique Truong agreed to read for us to cap a year of events. She had been kind enough to moderate a panel at the Singapore Literature Festival last October. The open reading before her feature was, as usual, full of lively and varied voices. Inclusive and supportive, the open reading typically included creative writing in verse and prose from both emerging and established writers. That evening we were privileged to hear from Monique an excerpt from her novel-in-progress The Sweetest Fruits.  We won’t give anything away, except to say that the writing was as powerfully evocative as Monique’s readers have come to expect from this master storyteller. This is a book well worth waiting for. You can find out more by looking up Monique’s website.

After the reading, people stayed on to talk and enjoy the beauty of Paul and Al’s home and the warmth of their hospitality. One-year-old now, the Second Saturdays Reading Series looks forward to bringing even more good stuff to an appreciative audience. We hope to expand our offerings to include other forms of art. As a first step, we will be featuring Kirsten Tan and her award-winning short film Dahdi in March. If you would like to be on our email list, please get in touch with Jee at jeeleong.koh@gmail.com or Paul at paul.rozario@gmail.com.

 

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Wun Kuen Ng reading

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Nichole Acosta reading

Jeremy

Jeremy Tiang reading

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Christine Chia reading

Deedle

Deedle Tomlinson reading

Tim

Tim Tomlinson reading

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Filip Notredaeme reading

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Jee Leong Koh reading

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The Feature: Monique Truong

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Rapt audience

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A lighter moment

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Second Saturdays Reading Series Facebook Page

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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