October 28, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Lounge Interview with poet and author Cyril Wong

2 min read

Team Kitaab is in conversation with poet and author Cyril Wong whose work is going to be a part of TBASS 2021 Anthology.

Cyril Wong is a poet whose works “embrace themes of love, alienation and human relationships of all kinds” (TIME magazine, 28 Nov. 2007). His recent publications include The Lover’s Inventory (Math Paper Press, 2018) and Infinity Diary (Seagull Books, 2020).

A two-time recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize (2006 and 2016) and the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature (2005), he completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. His writings have appeared in international magazines and anthologies by W. W. Norton and Everyman’s Library.

His story is going to be a part of the soon-to-release TBASS 2021 anthology (Kitaab, 2021).


  1. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

In the beginning I wrote to keep from killing myself. To make sense of the irrationality and utilitarian politics of human life, the challenges of love’s discovery and an intrinsic meaninglessness. Now I write to stop writing or to reach beyond language and thought and self-centred emotions. I write to arrive at an inward equilibrium and flirt with the ineffable.    

  1. Share a bit about your writing journey so far. How did you start? Any roadblocks? Who were your strongest supporters? Any tips to share with aspiring writers who are just beginning their journey or are about to begin it?

I wrote letters to myself while being a depressive during my National Service. I learnt that I was writing poems. Later I also started writing stories and understood that the line between poetry and prose is more often an artificial one (at least to me). The only real roadblocks I faced had been censorship and the conservatism of publishers and institutions throughout my writing life. My strongest supporters remain the silent heroes who champion my work in one small way or other in the context of publishing or teaching my work in schools or discussing it in periodicals and at conferences.

My only tip for other writers is stolen from a Charles Bukowski’s poem: …unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it.

cyril wong

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