SingPoWriMo 2018

As a creative challenge to myself, I've decided to participate in the annual Singapore Poetry Writing Month (SingPoWriMo): 30 poems in 30 days. This isn't a form I'm comfortable with and I haven't written poetry regularly in something like 15 years, but here goes. This poem was from Day One, with a prompt by Stephanie Chan.


MAP OF 17TH CENTURY SINGAPORE
(with apologies to Imran Tajudeen and William Jamieson)

1690, and the Johor strait is still a river. 
Sincapura is a slab, stoppering sea with its
sandbank and barbed tail of coral. It will be
three centuries before the chisel of Changi’s
cheekbone begins to show. Ubin and Tekong
fade in and out on the tide. Nipa, southeast sentry,
marks safe passage through the rocks. 
For now, the island squats and plots,
new skin itching at the elbow of the shore. 
Dreaming itself larger, dredging for
its missing pieces in the sand: shell, bone, gut.

 Thomas Bowrey’s 1690 navigation chart of the Singapore Straits, with Singapore marked as 'Sincapura' and Pulau Nipa with three trees. Download a high-resolution version  here , courtesy of the British Library and the National Library Board.

Thomas Bowrey’s 1690 navigation chart of the Singapore Straits, with Singapore marked as 'Sincapura' and Pulau Nipa with three trees. Download a high-resolution version here, courtesy of the British Library and the National Library Board.

The Esplanade's Asian Theatremakers series

The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay commissioned two essays from me recently as part of their Asian Theatremakers series.

The first looks at the work of the late Yukio Ninagawa, known for his stunning reinterpretations of the Western theatre canon with a strong Japanese sensibility, notably from Shakespeare and Ancient Greek tragedy.

 Yukio Ninagawa. Image: Courtesy of Ninagawa Company (Japan)

Yukio Ninagawa. Image: Courtesy of Ninagawa Company (Japan)

The most recent essay tracks the artistic trajectory of Singaporean theatre company Nine Years Theatre and its co-founder, Nelson Chia.

 Nelson Chia (far right) in  Offending the Audience  at the Esplanade's  Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts  in 2017. Image: Courtesy of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Nelson Chia (far right) in Offending the Audience at the Esplanade's Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts in 2017. Image: Courtesy of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay