by Team Kitaab – Poetry

Kitaab Poets Among Stars Image“When it is dark enough,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “you can see the stars.” This Saturday, the Omni-Theatre at Science Centre Singapore will dim its lights for Singapore’s literary luminaries. A project initiated by the Singapore Writers Festival and Science Centre Singapore, Poets Among The Stars promises a feature-length show that brings together the wonders of science and art, as contemporary verse lights up the Omni-Theatre’s massive IMAX dome, the only of its kind in the country. The event is free, with limited seating. For registration, please visit:

About this unique collaboration, Yeow Kai Chai, director of the Singapore Writers Festival, has this to say: “Poets have always been inspired by astronomy and the solar system, ranging from William Blake to the Metaphysical Poets, and so, we thought, why not work with Science Centre Singapore to get writers to wax lyrical about the galaxy in the awe-inspiring Omni-Theatre? For the longest time, our society tends to compartmentalise people into either of two camps – science-oriented or arts-inclined. Instead, we believe that there’s much we can learn and appreciate as we reach across the aisles. We have been blown away by the unique, eclectic approaches by the writers as they reach inwards, and outwards towards the universe. We are thankful to our friends at Science Centre Singapore who have taken on the project whole-heartedly, and shown everyone, regardless of their discipline, how alike we are as we marry words and astronomy in our pursuit of truth and knowledge.”

Eight accomplished writers in Singapore were commissioned to pen pieces for the show. The writers include Ann Ang, Chairul Fahmy Hussaini, Christine Chia, Deborah Emmanuel, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Jon Gresham, Loh Guan Liang and Teng Qian Xi. Managed by Caroline Wan and Muhamed Leoaidil from the National Arts Council, the show has been no easy feat to put together, as Yong Jian-Yi from The Science Centre explains:

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Christine Chia PhotoLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I’m most inspired to write when I’m arrested by a cinematic dream. My dreams inspire many of my poems; I take them down verbatim, word for word, image for image. My dreams are pitiless and deadly like Ingmar Bergman films. My waking self would flinch at saying the things my dream self says. It’s the things my dream self says that move my readers and the child I was and will always be.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I am starting to work on editing the follow-up volume to A Luxury We Cannot Afford (Math Paper Press, 2014) with Joshua Ip and Cheryl Julia Lee and our working title for now is A Luxury We Must Afford – the final title is still subject to change. We are compiling a collection that looks into the future, into the next 50 years of Singapore’s journey as a nation.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I’m drawn to what Baldwin once stated, “You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.” It is important to me that the writing is not false or flabby; that it looks at things as they are and could be without whitewashing or pessimism.