My review of Philip Holden’s Heaven Has Eyes is now up on Quarterly Literary Review Singapore:
Full marks for freshman effort Philip Holden hits the bull’s-eye with Heaven Has Eyes
Code-switching, or alternating between languages or language varieties, is never an easy feat.
But Philip Holden makes the practice look effortless with Heaven Has Eyes, his debut collection of short stories that centre on or revolve around Singapore.
Each of the 12 texts demonstrates Holden’s keen understanding of both the Singaporean condition and the linguistic oddities that characterise the nation-state.
Whether it is portraying characters that converse using a mix of English and Singlish, or shifting between English and the various Chinese language varieties in telling each of the stories, Holden is equally at ease.
“Aeroplane”, for one, utilises an intelligent interplay of English, Mandarin and Hokkien, conveying, through the symbol of flying, themes of migration, abandonment and exile.
The anthology is edited by Christine Chia, Joshua Ip and Cheryl Julia Lee and published by Math Paper Press.
Details of the anthology launch:
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2017
Time: 6pm to 7pm
Venue: The Chamber at The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429)
What does the future of Singapore hold?
In 2015, the anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford commemorated 50 years of man-made myth – 50 years of mysteries and ministries, Marxists and memorandums, the Merlion and The Man – and whether the 1969 assertion that “poetry is a luxury we cannot afford” still held true in the 2010s.
Instead of looking back, this companion volume to the first looks forward to everything SG51 and beyond. It is a collection of bold narratives of Singaporeans shaping their own future, a cornucopia of hyper-modern dreams of robots and aliens, yet also tales of muted despair at a future slipping out of touch with the past.
In the face of a fraught, uncertain future, there is no longer any need to debate whether poetry is an unaffordable luxury. In times like these, writers are the ones who must step up and reimagine possibility, speak out for hope and humanity, and inscribe the circumference of our soul. In 2017, poetry is…a luxury we must afford.