Second Saturdays Reading Series – 13 June 2015

Text by Jee Leong Koh and Photographs by Yun-chun Chua

 

Hosted by Paul and Al in their beautiful Carroll Gardens home, the last Second Saturdays reading before summer hiatus featured Brooklyn-based writer Patricia Park. Her debut novel Re Jane is described by Publishers Weekly as “a cheeky, clever homage to Jane Eyre with touching meditations on Korean-American identity.” Reading some well-chosen extracts from the novel, Patricia described vividly the feeling of a Korean American feeling out of place in Seoul. Not because the Seoulites were more Korean than the protagonist, as it turned out, but because they were, in some ways, more American. Patricia’s witty prose sparkled as it laid bare the global and local determinants of cultural identity.

 

Patricia reading

Patricia Park reading

 

Before the feature, five writers took to the stage in the open reading. Making her own reading debut at Second Saturdays was Kai Kai Goh, the six-year-old daughter of Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo. She entertained us with an adventuresome fairy tale. Then Jeremy Tiang read about a tender love affair from a novel that he is translating from Chinese to English. Wun Kuen Ng read us two of her poems, “Japanese Garden 1937” and “Festival of Light.” Christine Chia read “tunku’s dilemma: a pantun,” “two flags: a haiku” and “clean” from her poetry collection Separation: A History. She also read Ian Chung’s sestina “AC Nation” from the LKY anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford that she edited. Amanda Lee Koe, just returned from Cannes Film Festival and Venice Art Biennale, read two new short prose pieces inspired by her travels, “All the Chinese I Needed” and “Bells.”

 

Kai Kai Reading

Kai Kai reading

 

Jeremy Reading

Jeremy Tiang reading

 

Wun reading

Wun-Kuen Ng reading

 

Amanda reading

Amanda Lee Koe reading

 

Christine reading

Christine Chia reading

 

The event was very well-attended, with many fresh faces, including recent film-making and acting graduates of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. As more Singaporeans come to New York to pursue the creative arts, we hope that Second Saturdays provides a welcoming place for them to find and work with other creative Singaporeans. Two of Christine’s poems that she read are, in fact, used in Alfian Sa’at’s new play Another Country, which runs in the Drama Centre Theater, Singapore, from 25 June to 11 July.

Another result of collaboration, across disciplines and territories, is the upcoming Singapore Arts Festival in New York in September. A grassroots event, helmed by Hong-Ling Wee, it will feature the literary and visual arts, film, dance and theater, as well as the inaugural Singapore Symposium bringing together scholars, social activists, and arts practitioners. Festival artists come from both Singapore and New York.

The Second Saturdays Reading Series will resume in October, with a very exciting culinary writer as our feature. Have a great summer!

 

Potluck table

group eating

Wee Ling and Kirsten

Yun and Hong Ling

Group with Kim

Patricia with Donald and Johannah

Milo Jug

 

 

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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