End of Year Roundup

Printmaking Triptych, Utagawa Kunisada

Printmaking Triptych, Utagawa Kunisada

Now that Deeds of Light has hatched, I will be slowing the update rhythm. The book’s got some positive reviews so far: two mentions by Ian Chung and Angus Whitehead in Singapore Poetry’s My Book of the Year 2015, brief comments by Alvin Pang in the Straits Times Bookends, and more informally, it’s made its way into Jason Lundberg’s top 10 poetry reads of the year. Alvin also very generously included hyperlinkage in his wall of books at Singapore Inside Out. One little highlight, too, was Kenny Leck thrusting my book into the hands of PM Lee at the Singapore Heart Map Festival. Who knows, maybe PM hasn’t yet thrown it away…

Where 2015 felt like a year of self-promotion, I think 2016 is shaping up to be a year of collaboration/promoting other people’s work.

Poetry.sg, of course, is going to continue improving. Part of the team met yesterday, and we’ve decided for the first update wave (mid-2016) to include poets such as Ee Tiang Hong, Goh Sin Tub, Shirley Lim, Eric Valles, Leonard Ng, Margaret Leong, Francis P. Ng, Angeline Yap, Cecille Parrish, and Eleanor Wong, and we’re also aiming for brand new essays on Edwin Thumboo and Alvin. I’ve already begin thinking of who to arrow to write these essays, but if you’re reading this and would like to contribute, please feel free to approach me. There will be another update wave for end-2016.

UnFree Verse is still very much alive and kicking, with the terrific addition of intern Shawn Hoo, who is whittling down our unread count as I type. We’re down to 83 unread books of Singapore poetry out of the possibly thousands that have ever been published, and by end-January Joshua Ip, Theophilus Kwek, and I will start discussing which poems should be in or out of the anthology.

I always enjoy collaborating on visual art projects, and there are at least 3 in the pipeline. Concrete Island, Kenneth Tay’s brainchild, to which I contributed a poem for its unorthodox publication reader. Left-Right, again by Kenneth and Geraldine Kang, which is a book of responses to photographic images–of course, I used it as an excuse to write ekphrasis on a Darren Soh photo which has made its way into DoL. Most recently, I was invited to write for Boedi Widjaja’s upcoming Imaginary Homeland: 我是不是該安静地走開. I won’t say too much, except that I tried to interview him but things didn’t turn out too well…

Finally, I’ve agreed to write a number of reviews, two for Kenny and Ian’s new journal (is it called Dialogue?), and one for QLRS (I’m reviewing Jee Leong Koh’s Steep Tea). Alvin struck a deal with me: he would get a review for my book if I would write a kind of manifesto/review of it in return. So far, he’s fulfilled his side of the bargain, and now the ball’s in my court. Looks like there’s still a little self-promotion left, then.

Til next time!

Hao Guang Tse