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Showing posts from October, 2015

Singapore Launch of Steep Tea and SWF

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Thanks very much, everyone who came out to the Singapore launch of Steep Tea tonight. You were, in a word, overwhelming. Your support, love, and friendship. I am so grateful. I'm just sorry that there wasn't time to talk to everyone properly. I hope we will see one another when I visit again next summer. If you fancy hearing me talk cock sing song about "Raising the Profile of Asian Literature" (10 am) and "Getting Published Overseas" (2:30 pm), come to the Singapore Writers Festival at The Arts House tomorrow (Sat). For those of you who couldn't get a copy of my book tonight, it will be available at the festival bookshop at The Arts House from tomorrow to the end of the festival. Thanks again, Boedi Widjaja, for the cover image and for coming out tonight. Thank you, Anthony Koh Waugh, for hosting the launch at your wonderful bookstore. You are a sweetheart.















At the Singapore Writers Festival, I was a panelist in two sessions.


"Raising the Profile o…

Pittsburgh and Haiku

Just returned on MegaBus from Pittsburgh. Last night I read with Jason Irwin and two other poets at Classic Lines Bookstore for the Under the Sign of the Bear reading series, organized by Michael Albright. It was good to hear Jason read again, so sturdy and genuine is his poetry. It was lovely also to meet Jenny Ashburn, and Jason's friend Scott Silsbe, and to spend the day with Ian.

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Full moon
sailing
through the blue moorings

Haiku

Crinkled leaves
yesterday’s sprinkling
of sunlight

NY Launch of Steep Tea

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Thanks, everyone, for celebrating my new book "Steep Tea" with me last night at Book Culture. The trains were acting up, the night was cold, but you came, some traveling for more than an hour, at least one person whom I know of walking 24 UWS blocks because of Sabbath. Your presence made the event special. Thank you, Cody and the team at Book Culture, for hosting the launch. A big thank-you to Simpson from Chomp Chomp for sponsoring the delicious reception. Thank you, Doug and Chris, for bringing the food to the reading. Thank you, Raj, for the Tiger Beer sponsorship. And thank you, Meiko, for helping with the reception.

It was wonderful to hear Cindy Arrieu-King again. Thank you, Cindy, for coming in from Philly to read with me. Your poems are beautiful and brave. They confront the horrors of our contemporary world, not in some far-off war-torn country, but right here among our daily struggles. Softness, you remind us, is a form of kindness. Your soft touch is born of great…

Haiku

October park
the lamps are going out
the trees are lighting up

Richard Scott reviews Steep Tea in Ambit

"Koh is at his best when he’s writing about lust; his massively understated poems detailing homosexual desire are marvellous."
Thanks, Richard Scott and Ambit, for this no-holds-barred review of Steep Tea.

Haiku

They have torn up the surface of Lexington Avenue again.

Tar dust in my nose
after twelve years
I'm still walking home

"Telltale: 11 Stories" edited by Gwee Li Sui

A fine selection of short stories by literary critic, poet, and graphic novelist Gwee Li Sui. I appreciate the emphasis in his introduction on the humanistic dimensions of these stories, instead of their representations of Singapore. Powerful stories by Alfian Sa'at, two from his collection Corridor, and one new story about a man waiting on death row. Dave Chua is represented by his moving story "The Drowning" about the impact of the Asian tsunami on a family. My biggest discovery is Tan Mei Ching, whose story "In the Quiet" rings absolutely true about how a precocious teenage girl learns about death. Jeffrey Lim's stories "Haze Day" and "Understudies" are clever constructions but somewhat thin in characterization. Still, they display an experimental daring not usually found in the Singapore short story. They push against the social realist tradition of fiction-making that the other stories in this anthology exemplify.

Dia: Beacon

Visited Dia:Beacon for the second time yesterday. Enjoyed looking at John Chamberlain's sculptures of crushed and twisted auto parts, Imi Knoebel's wooden forms stacked against the walls, Robert Smithson's glass and sand sculptures, in particular, "The Map of Glass (Atlantis)" and Joseph Beuys's piles of felt weighed down or pedestaled by copper plates. Two very different artists brought close to home the feeling of the sublime. Richard Serra and his colossal elegant forms. Fred Sandback and his drawings in space using yarn. As Sandback himself said, he does not aim to transform the space so much as to co-exist with it. His yarn sculptures do not take up room but they are as solid as Serra's thick sheet metal. How to write and present haiku like that?


Haiku

Green is going out
leaves litter the park
so many sea shells!

Haiku

Baking in black
the young man stops the tourists
and shows the menu

Haiku

The small bird calls
like a shrill electric saw
my chains gone

Haiku

Birdsong bursts
from the tall roadside tree
pardon my coughing

Ian Pople reviews STEEP TEA

"In these poems, the grace and elegance mentioned above mix with Koh’s imagination, to create a fine sense of play in his material. The final effect is a charged, nuanced lyricism."

- Ian Pople in The Manchester Review. Read more.

Singapore at 50 and Haiku

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"Singapore at 50: Reflections on the Local, Global and Postcolonial," organized by Jini Kim Watson of NYU, was a thoughtful and stimulating presentation of work by academics from Singapore, the US and Canada. Joanne Leow, from the University of Toronto, read Singapore's Gardens by the Bay together with Kevin Kwan's novel Crazy Rich Asians and highlighted the uses of excess. E.K. Tan, from Stony Brook University, argued for a more complicated and expanded notion of Sinophone literature by looking at two poems written in a hybrid of Chinese and English. From Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, C. J. Wan-Ling Wee looked at the distinct character of the 1980's for Singaporean cultural productions, created during a fruitful gap after the state began to focus on high culture but before it produced its Renaissance City report and poured huge amounts of money into the arts. Cheryl Narumi Naruse, also from NTU, examined the transnational mobility of Singapo…