Showing posts from May, 2019

Fair Play

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Last Friday, Taiwan's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first for Asia. In doing so, it met the deadline imposed by the constitutional court, which struck down the Civil Code's definition of marriage as exclusively between a man and woman in 2017. Singapore Unbound salutes all the Taiwanese LGBTQ activists and allies, and rejoices with all Taiwanese, both LGBTQ and not. The change is not just for a sexual minority but for everyone, because it enhances democratic ideas, freedoms, and rights for all.

Over in Singapore, the annual LGBTQ rally called Pink Dot announced its campaign theme for this year, its eleventh. It urges all Singaporeans to take a stand #AgainstDiscrimination. To inform the general public of the real harm inflicted on LGBTQ people in school, at home, and at the workplace, members of the LGBTQ community are asked to take to social media to share their experiences of being discriminat…

The Blue Estuaries

The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan

I found one truly memorable poem in the collection, a sharp observation transformed by a peculiar sensibility, a formula advocated elsewhere in the book but rarely followed. Even in this instance, the poem would have been better served if the last line has been removed.

Roman Fountain

Up from the bronze, I saw
Water without a flaw
Rush to its rest in air,
Reach to its rest, and fall.

Bronze of the blackest shade,
An element man-made,
Shaping upright the bare
Clear gouts of water in air.

O, as with arm and hammer,
Still it is good to strive
To beat out the image whole,
To echo the shout and stammer
When full-gushed waters, alive,
Strike on the fountain's bowl
After the air of summer.

Team Effort

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Gaudy Boy, our imprint for publishing Asian voices, has been from the start a team effort. Our Managing Editor Kimberley Lim was instrumental in setting up operations in 2018. We were soon joined by Judy Luo as an editorial intern. With her sharp literary intelligence, Judy has been so valuable in assessing new manuscripts that we are over the moon that she has accepted the role of Assistant Editor, beginning yesterday. Last summer Jia Sing Chu came on board as a publicity intern. You have seen her thoughtful and beautiful social media posts promoting the press and our books. We are absolutely delighted that she is undertaking a bigger role as our new Assistant Publicity Director. Congratulations, Judy and Chu!

We are sad to bid farewell to Kathryn Monaco, our Marketing Director. Her expanded duties in her day job now demand her whole attention. Kathryn spearheaded our Instagram outreach, putting our books in the ha…

The Other Face of Violence

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When I expressed interest in attending a Jewish service, a kind friend brought me to the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which he has visited a number of times, not for worship (he is an atheist), but for the beauty of the Hebrew language sung and chanted, the sounds of his childhood. Founded in 1973 by twelve gay Jewish men, CBST describes itself as the world's largest LGBT synagogue. There I was last Friday, wearing my rainbow-colored kippah, tapping my foot to the catchy music, and trying hard to follow the service in English. I must admit that in the midst of the worshipful atmosphere, a fleeting thought went through my mind: what if a gunman should burst in and shoot up the sanctuary?

The rising tide of anti-semitism and homophobia in America made such a thought not altogether fanciful. The Poway shooting, which took place less than a week ago, must have been on the minds of the CBST congregation. The attack…

Munro and Levi

It is possible to read too many Alice Munro stories in a row. After reading Dear Life, I started straightaway on The Love of a Good Woman, and although I enjoyed individual stories in the latter collection, I find it difficult to recall precisely what each story is about, or even the main characters, except in the vaguest terms. The plots and the characters overlap with one another, and I see secondary colors when I should see primary ones. I did not care for the title story very much, thinking that it could be much improved by radical excisions. "Jakarta" is a classic Munro meditation on love and the sacrifices it entails. "Save the Reaper" stands out for that menacing scene in the rundown house. "Before the Change" for its charged topic of illegal abortion.

It was with some relief, I admit, when I turned to my first book by Primo Levi. In The Monkey Wrench, a rigger tells the stories of his projects to a chemist, the latter based on Levi, who was a chem…

Poem and Talk

I have a poem and talk published in the latest issue of the Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore. The poem is "The Columnist," written for Kopin Tan. The talk is "'Core and Case': Some Thoughts on the Subaltern Sonnet," first delivered at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, in Portland, Oregon, on March 29, 2019, as part of the panel "#SonnetsSoWhite?: Poets of Color on Race and Traditional Verseforms." Thanks to Toh Hsien Min and Yong Shu Hoong, respectively, for the publications.

Joint Statement by Arts and Civil Society Groups

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Singapore Unbound joins 27 other Singapore arts and civil society groups in expressing our shared concerns about the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill. In our view, the Bill would grant excessive discretionary powers of censorship to the executive branch of government.

"Action to address misinformation and disinformation should not take the form of the very broad powers of censorship set out in the Bill, which lacks robust safeguards to limit their use. In our view, by empowering a government to silence critical voices, the law, if enacted, will promote fear and distrust. Like the “fake news” it is said to combat, it would undermine healthy debate and public confidence in our common institutions." You can read the letter here.

We're especially heartened by the solidarity shown by theater groups (Drama Box, Dream Academy, Intercultural Theatre Institute, The Necessary Stage, The Theatre Pr…