Thank you for visiting Singapore Poetry. I’m a Singapore poet living in New York, and this website is about poetry by Singaporeans, and all things poetic about Singapore.
When I tell people that I grew up in Singapore, they usually start talking about how clean it is, or how good the street food tastes, or they ask me if bubble gum is really banned in the country. Yes, the pavements in Singapore are so clean that you can eat off them. Yes, the food courts and hawker centers are a paradise for the gourmand. No, you can chew as much bubble gum as you like; you just can’t import it.
Until they meet me, even the well-traveled, well-read cosmopolitans that many New Yorkers are do not know of any Singapore writers. They may have read Derek Walcott, but they have not heard of Edwin Thumboo, Arthur Yap, Lee Tzu Pheng or Goh Poh Seng. They do not know that there is a continuous tradition of Singapore poetry written since Singapore became independent of the British in 1965.
What’s more, the tradition is very much alive and kicking in this still-new century. Small independent presses have grown up alongside the established outfits. Bookstores such as Books Actually and Select Books champion local literature. The annual Singapore Writers Festival showcases Singaporean as well as international authors. Singapore writers travel all over the world to read at literary festivals.
These are the exciting developments that I hope to bring to your notice. If you love good literature, this website is for you. If you love Singapore, or are intrigued by it, having visited, lived or worked in the country, or know someone who has visited, lived or worked in the country, this website is also for you.
Though the spotlight is on Singapore poetry, this website will also showcase all things poetic about Singapore. By poetic, I don’t just mean beautiful or lyrical; I also mean some quality that cannot be measured in economic terms, but is pursued for its own sake. These other forms of poetry may be found in the performing and fine arts, music, film, design, landscape, people and, yes, food. Singapore Poetry is especially interested in news of doings, happenings, and beings that travel off the beaten track, fly under the radar, and break new ground. Things not already supported by government agencies or public institutions.
So, send me news of all things poetic about Singapore. Or comment on what interests you about the website. Follow Singapore Poetry via email or Word Press. Forward what you like to family and friends. Tell me what your favorite Singapore poem is. In the old word association game, you hear a word and say the first word that comes to mind. Next time someone says Singapore to you, say Poetry.
Jee Leong Koh