The Media Development Authority of Singapore, which is tasked with media censorship, licensed ContraDiction, a gay poetry reading, on the condition that one of my poems would not be read. The offending poem was "Come On, Straight Boy." MDA did not stop the printing and distribution of the poem, together with all the poems read that evening, in the event pamphlet but it drew the line at performance. I don't understand what logical and consistent rationale could be given for prohibiting the reading, but not the distribution, of a poem. Under the law, a poetry reading is considered a performance, and not a talk/lecture. Recent changes to censorship laws allow for the latter, in a private venue to an audience of a certain size, but a performance still requires a MDA license. What did the MDA fear I would do while reading the poem? Pull down my pants and waggle my dick at the audience? Go up to a straight boy and seduce him into a public same-sex act? Or does a performance, unlike the private reading, of a gay poem insidiously and conspiratorially undermines the precarious heterosexuality of straight members of the audience? It's all laughably outrageous. It seems to me that in its half-hearted approach to opening up a tight-arsed society, the government is forced to make untenable and illogical distinctions and categorizations. And to patronize its citizens, as is its wont.
Anyway, here's the poem, warts and all:
Come On, Straight Boy
Come on, straight boy, and make gay love with me.
One night of loving will not turn you queer
if queer is not what you will bend to be.
Loving a man is but a change of gears.
Why do it with a girl, an undulating
waterbed, and stress leaks pinched too late?
Why with an oven she loves regulating,
you stick your tray of cookies in, and wait?
Men love themselves when they love other men.
Loving themselves, they know well how to give
each other head, maneuver two or ten
round the bend of straightforward relief.
What have you got to lose? Leap, acrobat!
You can still fall back on pussy cat.
The night, billed as the second annual gay poetry reading in Singapore, was a significant event. It showed that there is an audience, gay and straight, for poetry that is personal and well written. It made gay writers more aware of each other's work, and thus feel less isolated. I'm glad to have read my work last night, to an audience who knows what Tiger Balm Gardens is or how important the oil refining industry is to the country, and so is better placed to understand additional dimensions to my poems, "Hungry Ghosts" and "Blowjob." The organizers deserve a lot of credit for their effort, courage and creativity. Thanks, people. Please do this again next year, or sooner.