Friday, November 30, 2007

Passionate Poet from Straightlaced Singapore

Oh, okay. I could resist lifting Ishaan Tharoor's headline from his article about Cyril Wong in Time magazine (Asia edition):
It is one of the more delicious workings of karma that Singapore, which criminalizes homosexuality, should have as its leading young poet an openly gay man. But while Cyril Wong relishes waving "a purple flag" in socially conservative faces, his work expands beyond simple sexuality — being "just a gay poet," as he puts it — to embrace themes of love, alienation and human relationships of all kinds. His latest volume of verse, Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light , is due to be published this month, hopefully to burnish further the international reputation that the previous five collections have established for him.

Wong, 30, burst onto the scene in 2000, with Squatting Quietly. It was, like many debut collections, a document of rebellion — in this case, against the values of his Christian, middle-class Chinese upbringing, and the social alienation that his sexuality entailed. Much of the latter had been brought into stark relief during 2 1/2 years of national military service, during which, he jokes, he was "too campy in the camp." His natural levity masks the loneliness and vulnerability he felt in the barracks. But ultimately it was poetry, rather than humor, that gave Wong a means of working through the frustrations driving him, at times, to a suicidal state of mind. "It helped me wash my dirty linen in public," he says.
You can read the rest of the article here.

The soft launch of Cyril's Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light will be held at The Arts House at 8p.m. tomorrow.

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