3 titles from the Twenty-Four Flavours flash fic series:
A new haul of books from BooksActually :
by Jason Erik Lundberg
edited by Jason Erik Lundberg
Tse Hao Guang
Hao Guang is interested in form and formation, creativity and quotation, lyrics and line breaks. His work has appeared in various anthologies and literary journals both online and in print, and in a couple of art exhibitions. He has a chapbook (hyperlinkage, Math Paper Press 2013) to his name. Having gone through the Mentor Access Project under the guidance of Alvin Pang, he is currently in the University of Chicago’s Masters of Arts Program in the Humanities. He can be found either at www.vituperation.wordpress.com, or curled up against a good book.
Q: So this is your very first book! Congratulations! When did you start working on Hyperlinkage? What will you say was the inspiration behind this collection?
Thank you! Hyperlinkage was written from 2011 to 2012, in fits and starts. Originally I was working without any framework of a collection in mind. The idea to make a manuscript of it came from Mr. Leck himself, who asked me to write something for MPP. He really gave me the first impetus to write not just individual poems but string them together into a collection, so I really thank him and BooksActually for that. I had already been circling around a number of images in several poems, so i thought it would be cool to have a collection based, not necessarily upon a theme, but around these things — rain, travel, God, babies — that kept reappearing in my work. I generally don’t believe in inspiration in the stereotypical sense, where the poet is some kind of creative fountain fuelled by a muse or by the things he/she sees. However the idea of words being able to connect — with each other, to other people, disparate thoughts and subject matters — was very compelling for me. And so I took a few poems I had already written, crafted some others to ‘fill up the gaps’, and Hyperlinkage was born!
Q: You were involved in National Arts Council’s Mentor Access Project. How did the programme help you in your writing?
The MAP helped me to see the big picture. What I mean by this is that it exposed me to the whole ecosystem of literary production which I had never before seen first hand — the work that goes into publishing, being aware of your audience, how writers manage to break through in various markets. This I think is as important as craft itself, which strangely enough did not figure much in my MAP journey. Having a mentor also really put thing into perspective, because I became aware that I wasn’t just accountable to myself in my writing, but to readers both casual and critical. My mentor also told me to take my time with my writing, and this has proved to be invaluable advice. Thanks Alvin! I grew a lot as a writer through it, and even though I had already finished Hyperlinkage by the time MAP started, I believe my next collection will be the better for it.
Q: You brought up capital punishment in your poem “Speaking on Behalf of Yong Vui Kong”. What are your thoughts on the Yong Vui Kong saga and capital punishment in Singapore?
I’m really glad you asked this question. Capital punishment is a deeply ambivalent subject for me. On the one hand, I do not believe that the judge should have no say in the judgment (I wrote this before they amended the law), and I am not sure that punishing runners quite gets to the root of the problem: the drug lords and the lack of support for those who are suffering and then turn to drugs for some kind of escape. To top it all off, I’m quite the pacifist. At the same time, there is a real harm that accrues to taking drugs, and the threat of capital punishment deters people and indirectly saves many lives. I decided to write my poem from the viewpoint of Yong Vui Kong precisely because of this. I imagined him reflecting on his actions and coming to terms with his sentence. I think the laws related to drug offences have changed in the right direction — going further, I would presume to say that life imprisonment is probably a more just decision in this case. But abolishing capital punishment altogether? Even for murder? I’m not quite sure. That seems like just another flavour of totalitarianism.
Q: Jack Kerouac is considered one of the pioneers of the Beat Generation and you made several references to Jack Kerouac’s works in Hyperlinkage. Why the allusion to Kerouac and the Beat Generation?
Ah, Kerouac. The Beats have an interesting place in my heart because they are all about moving about — On the Road is a paean to travel — and Hyperlinkage, above and beyond the overt poems about planes and Venice, is about words and images transporting the reader from one place, geographical or otherwise, to another. I don’t agree with everything that they stand for, but I must admit that the Beats and Kerouac in particular have an ability to capture the Singaporean psyche because they are always looking for an escape to somewhere and seem most at home in the midst of change. We live in a city that is always trying to remake itself, but at the same time this change is too often along the lines of materialistic progress. Kerouac’s road trips on the other hand were a kind of change diametrically opposed to any kind of positivistic improvement, and focussed in my opinion on the internal journey. His destination I think is quite sad (decadence and liver cirrhosis, I believe), but the spark that ignited his search for something more beyond what society could offer — that I can get behind. He wrote some rocking haiku, too.
Q: What next? What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
I am in the midst of revising a full length collection entitled Nusantara, which takes as its departure point folktales and legends of the region. Nusantara is an Indonesian term, which has had different meanings over the years but has settled into a designation for modern Indonesia itself: “Islands in between,” or Indonesia as an island chain between continents (Australia, Asia) and oceans (Pacific, Indian). Interestingly, in the past it referred to areas — the “Outer Islands” — which paid tribute to the Majapahit Empire, which was based in Java, but were not actually a part of it. This included bits of what is now Malaysia, Borneo and… Singapore. I was wondering whether we as a people have had too narrow a definition of national identity (Merlion, majority Chinese, NDP, void decks), and so decided to see what an exploration of stories from our past had to say about who we are, where we come from and where we are headed towards. You can expect new perspectives on Sang Nila Utama, gamelan, the Singapore Stone, Zheng He, kris, and Badang. I only hope that I do my subject matter justice, and that this collection will see the light of day soon. MPP and Kenny, hint hint! Besides that, I’m at the University of Chicago in a Humanities Masters programme focussing on creative writing, and I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to keep learning about the craft and vision of poetry. We’ll see where that takes me!
BABETTE’S FEAST No. XVIII
a string of poems
by Tse Hao Guang
hyperlinkage is an experiment with a central hypothesis: that words can connect disparate points of view, plural experiences, multifarious crystallisations of the imagination. Each poem contains an image that recurs in the next; between different poems, different links are uncovered. But what holds them all together? In a hyperlink age, we must engage in hyper linkage. We are more interconnected but also more distrustful of universality. The last poem both loops back to the first and projects into the future a hope, an ushering in of the transcendent that so many seem to have lost sight of. hyperlinkage is a beginning.
proverbe africain (via slak)
I knew that someone would post pictures of that building the moment I saw it on tv
Last week, in New Delhi, India, news stories of a horrific gang rape spread quickly, igniting widespread outrage. A 23 year old woman was attacked by six men on a moving bus and brutalized for 45 minutes, in the most recent and alarming of several high-profile incidents. Protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the growing incidence of rape, and its slow and ineffective prosecution. Riot police have responded, dispersing crowds with forceful tactics including water cannons, batons, and tear gas. India’s government has now ordered a special inquiry into the incident to identify any negligence or errors on the part of police.
See more. [Images: AP, Getty, Reuters]