To date, my Bookends contribution hasn’t been published yet and I’ve got a feeling in my gut that it won’t ever be published.
It’s highly unlikely that it’ll be published next Sunday, because it was meant to be used as publicity for Own Time Own Target, and the run for Own Time Own Target ends this coming Saturday.
In essence, I think Two Baby Hands is very good. Go read it, especially if you don’t read poetry normally. IMHO, it provides a very good primer/introduction to Singapore society and literature in general too.
But before you read on, I think I must say a few things here about why I am not very happy that my contribution wasn’t published.
- The non-publication of the piece is a let-down for me because I had to take time off to write the piece. I put quite a bit of thought and effort into it, and I think the editor of Sunday Lifestyle could’ve been courteous enough to at least say, “Thank you for your contributions but we’re sorry we cannot publish your piece.” That is only fair.
- It is also a let-down for me and other people because the publishers of Two Baby Hands very kindly agreed to let me purchase a copy of the book in advance of the launch because I really wanted to write about it in the Bookends piece. I think we all expected the piece to appear because we never thought the contrary would happen.
- That the contrary did happen i.e. the piece wasn’t published might be saying something too, because I believe that silences, or the things that aren’t talked about, are equally, if not, more important than the things that are discussed in public. I can only speculate, but I think it might’ve been that the other two books I wrote about didn’t exactly make for very ‘acceptable’ conversation – but ‘acceptable’ by whose standards, I’m not too sure. Nevertheless, I leave the reader to make her/his own conclusions.
- What books are you reading now?
I’m reading three books.The first: Two Baby Hands by Gilbert Koh. I’m quite fond of the poems so far because Koh discusses subjects – like education and National Service – that are close to my heart. Moreover, he deals with these subjects in a straightforward manner without using obscure language.
Another book: Our Thoughts are Free: Poems and Prose on Imprisonment and Exile, edited by Tan Jing Quee, Teo Soh Lung and Koh Kay Yew. I like how it uses creative writing as a means to discuss a difficult portion of Singapore’s history. This makes the issues more accessible to readers like me, since most of us have lived in relative freedom all our lives.
The third book is That We May Dream Again, edited by Fong Hoe Fang. This has accounts of some of the people involved in the so-called ‘Marxist conspiracy’ of 1987. What has struck me most thus far: the detainees’ passion for wanting to help the less fortunate in Singapore, along with how their lives and perspectives have changed after their detention.
- If your house was burning down which book would you save and why?
It’s a toss-up between Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Both books speculate on issues like ethics, technology and human communication in ways that are appealing and endearing – the former has dinosaurs running amok, while the latter uses a militaristic backdrop to tell its tale.