Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why Won't They Come?

For them, we gladly imitate animals
like those in corporate zoo.
Here a mindless monkey leaping
desperately, trapped in a urban cage.
There a grumpy duck stuck
between frozen lake and uncertain sky.

But why won’t they come?

If they want, we can even be more outrage,
just try us. Watch me pee
right here, right now -
the world is my private loo.
Perhaps now we have their full attentions?
Are we not expressive enough?

But still why won’t they come?

Maybe they are ashamed
of how others might perceive them.
Or maybe they’ve chosen
to be temporary blind.
They do have a choice you know.

But wait! An audience – a child,
sitting alone at the edge of reason.
Watching her, we held our breath
as if the purpose of our existence depends
solely on this little girl.

She yawns.

By Alson Teo


Who exactly is my audience?

To a certain degree I am the first audience of my poems. I don’t mean the ‘I’ as the author but the ‘I’ as a reader. And to do this I need to step out of myself and disconnect emotionally from my works. Although that is important, what I am more concern is whether my poems are able to communicate with you, my intended audience.

But frankly as an author you do have a choice. For example if you wish to expand your audience's base, no point using words that only university graduates will understand. A couple of these words are fine but if the average readers need to refer a dictionary with every line, you might one to consider using simpler words.

I want to share with you an extract from INTERLOGUE, Studies in Singapore Literature, Volume 2: Poetry.

Mr Kirpal Singh* a respected poet both in Singapore and overseas, in the Introduction section commented that Mr Boey Kim Cheng

“ …writes from deep within, without compromise. His poems go down very well with academics and scholar-critics but not, I am told, with the general readers. His is a learned poetry and demands perhaps more of the contemporary reader’s time and effort. Does this mean that poets like Boey have lost their relevance? Or does it mean that readers today are less sophisticated or less discriminating? Boey Kim Cheng, like Yap, is reserved both in manner and person, and his poems while drawing one in, also let one out. Hence the complications.”

Frankly you don’t need a dictionary to read Boey’s poems. What you do need is some patience and perhaps as suggested by Mr Kirpal Singh, free time and efforts.

The thing is I am not a sophisticated reader. I just want to be entertained. I don't want to spend my time guessing what the author is trying to say. I want to feel the author’s heartbeats. I want to shout “Wow!” and yet be speechless at the same time because of what I've read. I want to cry and laugh with the poems. I am a greedy reader. I want to feel all these after my first attempt, okay lah, maybe after the second attempt.

I am not a sophisticated reader. If I want to read serious writings, I'll get myself a newspaper.

* Mr Kirpal Singh is the General Editor of INTERLOGUE and Editor of the first 3 volumes in the Series. He is internationally recognized both as a scholar and creative writer.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Photograph contributed by Liz


As if her casual touch
Is as deadly as her tainted blood.
Daggered stares keep
............................. her at bay. Even her
Shadow weeps
............................. alone.

By Alson Teo
(For 5th DPS (S) Poetry Writing Competition)


I truly admire those who took part in the recent NaPoWriMo 2006. A poem a day for 30 days required strong determination and a never-say-die attitude. You do not need to produce world class poems during this period but still they should be presentable.

So how do you write a poem out of nothing?

During the past few weeks I found myself in the same situation. No I didn’t take part in NaPoWriMo but I did take part in my own 5th DPS (S) Poetry Writing Competition. And to some extent get a taste of what it would be like if I should particiate in NaPoWriMo.

With a total of 9 submissions and only 2 days before closing date, I decided to participate in the competition. The thing is although all 12 photograhs were selected by me, I just can’t seem to establish a connection with them. And with only a day left, I decided to write an acrostic poem. Maybe it is just me but I feel that acrostic poems are more suitable for writing excerice rather than for competition. But with so little time left, what choice do I have?

For this short poem to work, I need to take into consideration its title, content, form, and the photograph. Form has been taken care of since I’ve decided to write an acrostic poem. All I need to do is to form the word “AIDS” with the first alphabet of each line. Its content is straightforward enough i.e. a poem about isolation and rejection of an AIDS patient by the society. I decided on the title “Rejection” because I think it sums up the poem nicely and reinforces the ending.

Another reason why I decided on an acrostic poem was because I wanted it to be able to stand on its feet i.e. without the photograph.

PS. Liz, is the figure on the left hand side of your photograph a human or a stack of rocks? :)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kindergarten Snapshot

Tumblers of Ribena, with tooth-marked caps.
Lined up by the window, where sun-drugged
Haywire ants navigated marshes of syrup,
The abacus was a grid of necklaces,
The globe the offspring
Of roulette-wheel and beach ball.
That Malay boy who bought tea to school
Was considered strange. So were those

Who came with squares on their sleeves –
Some black, some blue, for Ah Gong
And Ah Ma. And other bewildering relatives
Who bequeathed to them the badge
To the night school of mourning.

But no grief on their faces.
Not a trace, during afternoons
Of two-by-two, the teapot song.
And being called monkeys in the
Playground. We out-chorused one another
Through whistle-gap teeth. National Day:
Pom-pom hands and hula-hoop hips.

Other days: fractured crayons, a pencil
Sharpened on both ends, like a hex.
The girl who stared at the shut windows
Wishing for X-ray vision or a clock
With no hands. A puddle of shame-shame.

Sleeping time. Lay your head
On your arms. The wood of the table
Humming like underwater. If you opened
Your eyes you could see who else
Was disobedient. You could also drift
To the secret tapping of a friend,
Senseless Morse, galloping fingernails
Like firecrackers from a far-off holiday.

By Alfian Bin Sa’at
(Taken from A History of Amnesia
Published by Ethos Books)


The reason why I took so long to update my afterthought was because I couldn’t find my Kindergarten’s days photos. I’ve no idea where I've kept them. If I am not mistaken they should be somewhere in my new house but I’ve search high and low but still no sign of them. Arghhhhh!!!!

This is so frustrating!