The accolades keep stacking up for Singaporean poet and Kitaab’s Poetry Editor, Desmond Kon. With this win, Desmond has become the first writer in the world to have won three awards under the categories of Metaphysical, Inspirational Fiction, and Death & Dying at the US-based Living Now Book Awards.
This year, the anthology Ars Moriendi (Lien Foundation/Squircle Line Press), which Desmond edited, clinched the gold, beating Denna D. Babul and Karin Luise’s The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives (Penguin Random House-Avery) and Karen M. Wyatt’s What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying (Sunroom Studios).
Last year, his novel Singular Acts of Endearment (Grey Sparrow Press/Squircle Line Press) garnered the Silver award, while the hybrid work Babel Via Negativa (Ethos Books/Squircle Line Press) walked away with the Bronze.
Ars Moriendi is a collection of poetry and fiction, published last year to mark the 600th anniversary of the original Latin work, the first of its kind in western literature to provide guidance towards dying well. The anthology packs over 25 award-winning authors from across the globe, including Pulitzer Prize recipient Rae Armantrout, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award recipient Michael Ryan, and National Book Critics Circle Award recipient Amy Gerstler. Contributors from Singapore include Cultural Medallion awardees Edwin Thumboo and Isa Kamari, as well as Singapore Writers Festival director Yeow Kai Chai and National Poetry Festival director Eric Tinsay Valles.
“This book has been a very meaningful project from the start,” Desmond told Kitaab. “It addresses very pertinent concerns, that of aging gracefully and questions about what constitutes the good death. I’m definitely over the moon, although I’m already neck-deep in various other book projects.”
New works are to be expected from Desmond, who is scheduled for a triple-book launch at this year’s Singapore Writers Festival, with opening readings by fresh new voices from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and NUS High. The three titles include: Thirty-Seven Reasons Red Is Rad, FOODPORN cum Maundy Thursday, and Mirror Image Mirage, all jointly published by Glass Lyre Press and Squircle Line Press.
Alongside Marie Silkeberg and Nicole Walker, Desmond is a featured speaker in the panel, On the Limitations and Possibilities of Genres, even as he hosts another panel, How Poetry is Liberated in Mixed Media, featuring Divya Victor, Collier Nogues, and Nancy Perloff. In the event, Crossing Boundaries I: Four Masters Read Excerpts From Their Works, Desmond will be joining Perloff and Nogues again, as well as Cole Swensen, to perform selections of their writing.
“I’m really happy and grateful to be roped in on these events,” Desmond said. “This is the stuff of dreams. To be able discuss some of the edgy, exciting directions contemporary poetics seems to be headed towards. I’m genuinely thrilled to bits.”
For more information on the Singapore Writers Festival, go here.