By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Yeow Kai ChaiLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

To rewire DNA.

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

I’ve just finished a quintet of short stories for a collaborative project with three other authors, Yong Shu Hoong, Heng Siok Tian and Phan Ming Yen. We went to Angkor Wat and decided to write prose passages based on a set of parameters. I haven’t touched prose for some years and the genre has helped open up new avenues of expression. The stories I’ve written have a bit of David Lynch, Wong Kar-wai and the TV drama Lost into the mix. I had fun.

While awaiting the publication of my third poetry collection, I’m also starting work on my fourth. It’s pivoted on ideas about transformation and fluid identities. I’m particularly stoked after a visit to the Museum of Natural History at the University of Iowa last year. The stuffed animals, the intricate lifelike dioramas, the reimagined climes… they triggered something in me. I was there for the fall residency of the Iowa Writing Program and met so many kindred spirits too.

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 installment, 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.