Will Singapore take home the Poetry World Cup?


PWC Desmond Kon Global FootballWhat seemed unlikely has actually happened. Singapore has made it to the Finals of the World Cup. In poetry, that is. It’s the closest thing to this small country ever bagging the real thing.

Singapore has certainly been on the roll. Jacob Silkstone reported that Singapore “recorded the biggest win of round one and received the most votes in round two”, followed by “top form… recording a comfortable win over Trinidad & Tobago to set up a semi-final with Tunisia.” The semi-final match against Tunisia garnered even more votes for Singapore, “the highest-scoring game of the tournament so far”.

That’s until Saturday afternoon when Pakistan knocked out Laos, with close to 400 votes. That sort of figure from the host country will be tough to beat for Singapore, the Little Red Dot that approaches this game with back-slapping fun and laid-back candour.

Of who should win the World Cup, Singapore’s poet-delegate Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé was quoted as saying: “We’re all winners in this game. All of us who participated and joined in the fun. It’s a game of appreciation. Of appreciating one another’s wordsmithery, and each of our poems. These poems are no less than gifts to the reader.”

When queried about his choice winner from any of the 32 fielded poems, Desmond offered not one but three fine writers. He said: “Probably New Zealand’s Iain Britton, whose poem is perfect — such polish. What powerful enjambments and stanza-work, each line wrapping around a new image or idea. And of course, Ravi Shankar’s ‘Camp X-Ray’ is right up there too. Totally gripping piece. Jon Stone’s ‘The Bumblebee Dreams’ is simply gorgeous. I mean look at the ‘melittologist’, and the lovely opening lines ‘of nothing more or less / than pulling the balaclava of foxglove or bluebell over her head’ — how ‘all her beliefs are stolen / and since it keeps her joyous as the tears of a sun god, / she has given up fighting her own madness.’ Breathtaking.”

In this game where the readers’ votes are all that matter, Desmond’s prose poem, titled “gǎn qíng yòng shì :: impulsive and impetuous”, has seen him through all the rounds. A poet and novelist, Desmond’s writing has placed in literary competitions in Canada, England, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Nigeria, Scotland, and USA. His various honours include the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, among others.

PWC Desmond Kon Green BrazilThe inaugural writer-in-residence at Gardens by the Bay, Desmond is looking forward to his new poetry collection, I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist, hitting the BooksActually’s shelves this month. With great advance praise, the book is published by Math Paper Press. Distinguished poet and critic John Wilkinson has this to say: “The crystalline structures of I Didn’t Know Mani Was a Conceptualist precipitate out of Eastern and Western religious and philosophical texts, out of tantra, science fiction, cinema, high art, collage and low camp, out of Singapore, China, Europe and the United States. Beaded through this book, Desmond Kon’s crystals glitter instructively ‘like angels hanging onto tiaras’. Both elegant and extravagant, they thread suspended between prose poem and multiplex narrative, a cubist’s sphere.”

Poetry World Cup 2014 is organised by The Missing Slate, an arts and literary journal which has published writers from more than 60 countries. “Our goal is simple: honor talent and incorporate as many styles, opinions and cultures as possible,” The Missing Slate states. “The magazine is a ‘borderless’ one with a culturally and intellectually diverse team that believes if art can’t be quantified, it can’t be mapped either.”

Poetry World Cup 2014 brings together 32 authors from 32 countries. The initial two rounds finalised the poet contenders for the quarters, semis, and finals. Viewers get to read both poems, and then click to register their choice. Voting for the final match will only open around 3.30pm (Singapore Time) on Sun, 13 July, and close 24 hours later. The Finals see Singapore meeting Pakistan.

For on-going match details and to cast your vote, please visit the Poetry World Cup 2014 page at The Missing Slate.