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 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
Jeremy Tiang reading
Wun-Kuen Ng reading
Amanda Lee Koe 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!