Friday, August 21, 2015

Short Circuits - through the catchments of faith and writing by Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

First off, I just want to say a hearty "Thank you" to Anne Lee Tzu Pheng. This has been a wonderful book that has buoyed my faith in writing.

This book is basically a collection of short vignettes of the author's experience with writing, poetry, and with God. It's really interesting and easy to read (it helps that all the passages are only 3 pages each).

I was so touched and inspired by so much of the book I just had to record it somewhere for safekeeping (my memory isn't that great), and the medium of choice? 


Here is a sample:

Well, all I can say is that this makes an excellent gift for a writer who happens to be Christian. (On a separate note, I'm not too sure where one can get a copy of this book. The publisher doesn't seem to have a website with a catalogue, so, well, all the best!)

Tender Delirium by Tania De Rozario

This is the first book of poetry that has gripped me from the get-go. I first heard about Tania De Rozario when I attended a poetry workshop conducted by Cyril Wong. He waxed lyrical about her and I was intrigued.

And so, when I chanced upon this copy at the local library, I did not think twice about borrowing it.

I have no regrets.

The poetry and prose here is raw emotion mixed with heart-rending truths of reality. This book stands as a stalk of rose complete with thorns - stunning and dangerous.

My favourite is a toss-up between "What type do you like?" and After Sappho.

What I found really interesting was Onnen, and here is one third of the entire poem:

It's great isn't it?

Well, this is mainly a book of confessional poetry with a dash of prose thrown in for good measure. It is a bit of a reflection of the author's life, but the themes are universal. But if you know me personally, you'd probably know why this book spoke to me so much.

A warning for the homophobic reader: This is not for you. Do not borrow/buy it.

I believe this book is available at the Books Actually store in Tiong Bahru and can be also purchased online.


Monday, August 10, 2015

We rose up slowly by Jon Gresham

This is actually quite an interesting collection of short stories by Jon Gresham. The author contacted me via GoodReads and told me about his new book after I gave a 5 star review for "From the Belly of the cat" where one of his stories was featured. He sent me an autographed copy which I finished within a week. (It was pretty good.)

I must admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by the first story, "We rose up slowly" but gradually warmed up to the rest of the book, which got better and better, ending with a rather satisfying "A fleeting tenderness at the end of the night" which took its cue from a recent event that happened in Singapore.

I found that the magical realism in the titular story a little hard to follow and relate to. The rest of the stories had quite a bit of local flavour (very impressed since the author grew up overseas) and more relatable characters. My favourite short story has got to be "A girl and a guy in a Kijang in Kemang" for many reasons and partly because it had a story within the story. Kinda like Inception if you think about it.

This is pretty good writing and I could feel myself drawn into almost every story. Gresham has a knack of making the characters and plots believable yet throwing in a touch of the supernatural (in some stories), or a hint of vengeance (in others). It's almost as if he were writing about himself. I find myself wanting to ask him how much of it was taken from real life and how much from his imagination. Haha.

This is an excellent book for the busy Singaporean who might not have time for a full-length novel. Each story can probably be finished within the length of the time it takes to travel to work. I would also recommend it as a gift for birthdays because it a refreshing breath of fresh air in the local scene. It certainly was for me. After too many gay poetry collections (I am actually quite partial to them) and gritty local novels, this bunch of short stories is an excellent read.

I believe you can buy the book at Books Actually and I look forward to future works by this author. 


Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Scattered Vertebrae by Jerrold Yam

Scattered Vertebrae is Singaporean poet’s Jerrold Yam’s second collection but my first encounter with him. It is haunting and beautiful, a surprising work for someone so young.

I picked up his book from Clementi Public Library after discovering him on Instagram.

My favourite was Psalm.

I guess it resonated with me because it was part gay, and part Christian; part tortured youth, and part (un)willing member of a family. It’s quite complex really, and his poems are like flowers in a garden, differently coloured, some vulgar, some intricately shaped, and altogether refreshing.

All his other poems are just like this one, full of meaning and brimming with interesting expressions. 

I’d urge those exploring Singapore poetry to pick this title up. It will definitely be a breath of fresh air.