Balan Moses who is deputy chief news editor of the New straits Times read from his book Brickfields: A Time, a Place, a Memory, and his enjoyment in his own writing really came through as he read about the toddy shop, the hotel that doubled as ... erm ... something else, and the delicious food available in the area. I felt nostalgic even though I've only know Brickfields in more recent times!
Bath-based aromatherapist, mother of two and newbie blogger Pey Colborne's poems were magical. My favourites were: the first poem she wrote when she left Malaysia for Britain about all the things she misses most, another called Thumbs about how her daughters have inherited her thumbs which in palmistry denote a certain stubbornness and desire to travel ... and Totem in which she identifies with the humming-bird.
Noraishah Ismail has had several short stories published in the Silverfish collections under her pen-name Nora Adam. Today she read a heartbreaking story about a woman longing for her husband to make love to her ... she'd even settle for a kiss. Beautiful and brave writing.
Multi-talented (poet, author, photographer, filmmaker, actress, teacher!) Bernice Chauly read a series of heartfelt poems on divorce, death, love and heartbreak from her work-in-progress The Book of Sins. I was very moved by the poem she wrote about her mother's death, which ends with the words "fly, mother, fly" - I can identify with it having been there at the end with my mum.
Nicholas Wong's writer's CV is long and features some impressive literary awards and publications - not bad for someone who turned 18 just a week or two back! I am so happy to see how much more confident Nic has grown in reading his work in public. Methinks the workshop with Jacob Sam-La Rose worked its magic.
Nic began with a hilarious parody of Sharanya Manivannan's best loved poem about how everything in the universe wants to make love to her (and dedicated it to her!). Then he read a very affecting piece about the special children he works with at Bridges EIP in Kampong Kayu Ara, before ending with an extract from his prize-winning play Death Off the Mainland (about Singapore- Malaysia relations) which he read with Eugene Chuah.
I was so pleased that Wong Phui Nam, one of South-east Asia's most distinguished poets had agreed to come along and read. In his humble way he asked to read last "to give the young people a chance". I've been enjoying Phui Nam's collected poems in An Acre of the Day's Glass - and it was a real pleasure to hear his six poems today, all about women.
We hope to host a reading of his latest play at Seksan's soon. It was first read at the litfest but because there was so much else on, many people who wanted to hear it didn't get the chance.
In an interview last year Phui Nam said:
I write in English and how many read in English or are even interested in English poetry?I hope he left the readings very much cheered that although the poets may not exactly be taking over the world, there is an enthusiastic following for poetry and some very good stuff being written.
Thanks to all the people who supported the event, especially Seksan for the inspiring space, La Bodega for the wine, Kenny for the poster, and all the readers.
Posts on other blogs about the event. BP reckons you should never judge a poet by the way he opens a winebottle. Karsy is glad "readings" isn't as arstyfartsy as she feared it would be. Nic reveals he wrote the parody poem on the LRT. Leon has some excellent photos here. (More to be linked as I come across it.)