2nd Singapore Poetry Contest – Second Prize Winner

by Ankita Anand


Politicians double up as salons
Offering makeovers.

If today you ask a city its name,
It will look into your eyes seductively
And ask, “What do you want it to be?
I could be Shanghai,
Or are you in the mood for Singapore?”

And though you know
That while the grass on your side is burnt or stunted,
None grows on the other side,
You’ll allow yourself to be coiled up and swallowed.

You’ll want to take this one decision,
To end the pretence that you’re the one taking the decisions;
You’ll wish to do away with the stressful delusion of being in control,
Knowing you were the one being kept in control.

You’ll give in gratefully
In that most vulnerable moment in the day,
When you’re shivering,
“Anywhere but here, anywhere but here.”


Judge’s comment: “Metamorphosis” is a strong indictment of politicians who promise only superficial reform and not real change. Like Shanghai, Singapore is portrayed as an alluring but false model for developing cities in the global South. For the poem’s speaker, Singapore does not live up to its own billing as “a City in a Garden.” However, and this is where the poetry lies, the speaker will give in to the temptation to migrate, to be swallowed by the Edenic snake, even though she already owns the knowledge of good and evil. The plain statement regarding decision and control is then subsumed by the lyricism of the ending.”











Based in Delhi, India, writer-poet Ankita Anand has been an invitee to the International Poetry Festival, Andhra Pradesh, and the Multilingual Poetry Festival, Kerala, India. Her poetry has recently been chosen to be part of an anthology featuring forty Indian poets below the age of forty. She is also a recipient of the European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali Media Prize and a fellow with the Washington-based group The Rules.


Read also the Third Prize WinnerThe Singapore Poetry Contest is an annual celebration of the best poetry using the word “Singapore,” written by NON-Singaporeans. Awards of USD100, 50 and 20 go to the top three winners. The winning poems are published on Singapore Poetry; non-winning poems are considered for publication as well.


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.


  1. This is great! What talent.

    Am interested in all things Singaporean since I’ve recently completed, and am now marketing, a YA novel entitled Sincerely Singapore about an American teen from Minnesota who spends her senior year in this fascinating city/state.

    Visited once four years ago with my husband for our anniversary and long to go back.


    Laura Kennedy

    See Mommy Run

    Surf Shop Sisters

    Double Take

    The Breeding of Lilacs


  2. Thanks, Laura, for reading! Best of luck with placing the novel. Best, Jee


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