IMG_0554

“When I stand before thee at the day’s end, thou shalt see my scars

and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

We have all experienced pain of some kind — heartbreak, illness, distress, abuse, violence, disaster, loss, grief. What kind of personal suffering have you endured and weathered? If one were to navigate such trauma, what are some of the coping mechanisms? How, then, will you render your personal experience into lyric and narrative, to transform the pain into something of profound beauty? Poetry has long been known to be one of the great traditional healing arts, alongside dance, music, painting, theatre. As a creative practice, poetry can become a remarkable way to enhance personal healing, wellness and change. It can be as mending as it is ameliorating, as renewing as it is restorative.

This anthology will be edited by Eric Tinsay Valles and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, scheduled for publication in 2021.

EFW 2015 Cover 18 Aug 2015 Front OnlyWhat happens when art meets literature? At the Singapore Writers Festival, Eye/Feel/Write will launch its second instalment, with the publication of a beautiful anthology, titled “Eye/Feel/Write: Experiments in Ekphrasis”, as well as curated walking tours at The National Gallery.

A special commission by the National Arts Council, Eye/Feel/Write is a two-year ekphrastic project that has invited distinguished writers in Singapore to pen texts inspired by artworks exhibited at museums here. In the first year, ten writers — Alvin Pang, Edwin Thumboo, Isa Kamari, Jollin Tan, Joshua Ip, Ovidia Yu, Ramanathan Vairavan, Robin Hemley, Tan Chee Lay, and Yeow Kai Chai — created texts that dialogued with artworks at Singapore Art Museum’s Medium at Large exhibit. Ten poems were printed on broadsides as limited edition collectibles, housed in blank journals with an invitation to readers to engage in their own ekphrastic experiments.

The inaugural Singapore National Poetry Festival (NPF) is set to celebrate the island’s poetry in all its four official languages through readings and reflections by both established and emerging poets from July 24 to 26 at LASALLE College of the Arts at 1 McNally St, Singapore 187940.

The first platform of its kind in recent years to celebrate the whole range of Singapore poetry, the NPF is mainly organised by poets writing in the four different languages — Eric Tinsay Valles, K. Kanagalatha, Azhar Ibrahim, Tan Chee Lay — with the support of Cultural Medallion winner Edwin Thumboo, educators Michelle Loh, Khoo Lilin, Ian Chung, Kevin Hing, Zachary Tan and student volunteers. NPF will also hold readings and other events at the National Library, Gardens by the Bay, the Grassroots Bookshop and the Gan Heritage Centre.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Eric ValesLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I write, because I think I will go crazy if I don’t. I am possessed by some spirit, what has been called the duende, that drives me to write in verse. It is a gift that I am grateful for and that I would like to cultivate.

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

In my second book, After the Fall (dirges among ruins), I was trying to grapple with various motivations for war and violence and exploring how victims could pick up the pieces from the resulting brutality and destruction. I did so in dialogue with great souls such as St. Augustine who posited that adversity is not an end but a means to refine one’s practice of virtues. He saw the good as forging ahead and achieving some peace. Another major influence on the second book was Walter Benjamin who talked about giving witness to war’s horrors as a lifelong commitment. He described destruction through a witness’s perception of objects and nature scenes in the act of loss.

Desmond Kon
Desmond Kon

Fresh from his double win at this year’s Beverly Hills International Book Awards, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has been named a silver medalist at The 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY). This win, in the Multicultural Fiction category, is for his novel, Singular Acts of Endearment (Squircle Line Press & Grey Sparrow Press), which was launched at last year’s Singapore Writers Festival. Monona Wali’s My Blue Skin Lover (Blue Jay Ink) takes the gold, while Chantel Acevedo’s A Falling Star (Carolina Wren Press) walks away with the bronze.