What narratives do we tell ourselves
when we are in love?
What inspires us to love;
are we capable of love,
or are we only in love — with love?
These poets turn to myths
or private stories in order to
uncover fresh meaning,
and dig to the truth behind romance:
do we simply adore ourselves through another;
is love another form of violence;
does our society even permit us to love;
what is love and, finally,
does it even exist?
CURATED BY CYRIL WONG

CYRIL WONG

Cyril Wong is the Singapore Literature
Prize-winning author of Unmarked Treasure
and Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light.
About this project

UNCHRYSALIS

I offer my love in a crystal ball but you saw the apocalypse snow in on you, your childhood vaporised into talc as if I were accursed, on trial for witch-hunting you, crucifying the god of your id; so I retrace, retract, curled back to pupa, wither, shrivel, sunned into dust: remembering that love is only as brave as the flight of wings in battered caves.

Grace Chia Krakovic

Grace Chia Krakovic
Grace Chia Krakovic is the author of two poetry collections, Cordelia and womango. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Singapore, the US, Australia, Germany, France, and Serbia. She has been invited to the Singapore Writers’ Festival, Austin International Poetry Festival in the US, Queensland Poetry Festival in Brisbane, Australia and National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle, Australia. A recipient of awards from the Singapore International Foundation and National Arts Council, she was the NAC-NTU National Writer-in-Residence for 2011-2012.

UNCHRYSALIS

Disembodiments

I. Ymir’s skull Pan Gu’s eyes Tiamat’s ribcage Muhammad’s beard Christ’s foreskin Buddha’s teeth Nadim’s blood Rapunzel’s hair Surpanakha’s nose Venus de Milo’s arms Winged Victory’s face
II. Van Gogh’s ear Kahlo’s toes Francis Xavier’s hand Evita’s womb Hitler’s ball Zheng He’s cock Tin Woodman’s heart Little Mermaid’s voice Your skin Our bones My breath

Ng Yi-Sheng

Ng Yi-Sheng
Ng Yi-Sheng is a full-time writer of poetry, drama, reportage. fiction and slam-poetry. He became the youngest ever winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for his debut poetry collection, last boy, and reached the best-seller lists with his non-fiction workSQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century. He recently co-edited GASPP: a Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose, and will soon publish his memoir, Diary of a Stone Monkey. He also teaches at NTU, reports for Fridae, curates the monthly SPORE Art Salon, blogs at lastboy.blogspot and tweets at @yishkabob

Disembodiments

Twilight

death by water, drawled the fisherman who dredged you from the river, handsome, tall. i am a widow in a foreign land with nothing to her name. i spent it all to beg a favour of a passing priest. i have no gold to pay the wagoner to bring you home. long is the journey east, but you must rest beside your ancestors. this is the only way. your legs and arms are stiff. your face is cold. it’s come to this – i write your name upon the yellow charm and press it to your forehead with a kiss – come, we move by night. i dare not stop till dawn. we have a thousand miles to hop.

Joshua Ip

Joshua Ip
Joshua Ip is mostly a tourist and occasionally a poet. He is the only two-time winner of the ACS(I) National Day Propaganda Song-writing Competition, for the critically acclaimed Look To The Sky (1997) and Tree of Singapore (1998). He is struggling with his hypothetical second poetry collection, making love with scrabble tiles.

Twilight

SITA

In the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit text, Sita undergoes a trial by fire in order to prove her fidelity and chastity to Ram, her husband, after the two have been separated for some time. Sita duly walks through the flames and emerges from the ‘purifying’ ordeal unscathed, thereby hastening her husband’s re-acceptance of her. (I) I dealt him a hand That brought colour to his cheeks. The audacity. (II) Namaste; for love, He will walk a burning mile And five hundred more. (III) The sun, red embers. Said he, taking hold her hand, “I trust you, sweetheart.”

Laremy Lee

Laremy Lee
Laremy Lee writes in different genres, with a focus on writing for the stage. His staged works include Radio Silence, Full Tank!, and Opening Address. Radio Silence was most recently published in Voices Clear and True: New Singapore Plays Volume 1, an anthology of plays which Laremy co-edited. Excerpts of Laremy’s other writings can be found at www.laremy.sg

SITA

drunk before lunch
just talking to you

drunk before lunch just talking to you the rush to the head when your jokes burst into laughs; laughing too much as if I knew the tears that would follow.

Christine Chia

Christine Chia
Christine Chia received the Singapore Airlines Gold Medal, the NUS Society Medal, the Harvard Club book prize and other awards and scholarships from the National University of Singapore. Her first book of poetry, The Law of Second Marriages (Math Paper Press), was praised by writers Christine Suchen Lim (“thoroughly enjoyable”), Cyril Wong (“absolutely refreshing”, “terrifying, moving and memorable”) and Alfian Sa’at (“one of my favourite collections of poetry in recent times”).

drunk before lunch
just talking to you

Perfect Present

The first things we bought each other were gym memberships. You closed your eyes when I spoke, conjuring me circa seventeen. It is true I have yet to mature, still, you keep trying. Trying. I refuse to discard that phone, cherishing your first SMS. In the living room, a blizzard of tissue, on the screen, handsome faces and subtitles.

Koh Beng Liang

Koh Beng Liang
Koh Beng Liang's first book of poems, Last Three Women, was published in 2002 (Ethos Books). He beatboxes in the shower.

Perfect Present

The Love That Started Me

A young lady walks home alone in the evening rain. Umbrella held high towards the sky. Standing in a doorway watching her, a bloke with his suit collar turned up smokes. She asks if he wants to share her umbrella. He lets the cigarette fall from his fingers and strolls beside her. Eventually she says: ‘Well this is me. Goodbye.’ He asks if he can see her again. She smiles. They find themselves in a kiss. He worries he is too sloppy, opening his mouth too wide or not wide enough, that she’ll think she is sucking an eel. But she giggles and does not know where to put her tongue. She cannot resist biting his lip. He pulls back. She places her hand on the back of his head and lightly rubs the bristles at the nape of his neck. Nobody ever sees that part of themselves unless they have mirrors. The rain falls and they remain in a kiss. That is my lie about the love that started me.

Jon Gresham

Jon Gresham
Jon Gresham was born in England and grew up in Australia. He has lived in Singapore for over 10 years and his stories have been published in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Ceriph and the mono-titular anthology Coast. An excerpt from one of his stories was included in the Ceriph Synthaesia exhibition at The Substation. He blogs at www.igloomelts.com.

The Love That Started Me

The Love That Started Me

Best of strangers. Worst of friends. I miss the time before we met, before an opened door. I miss the way I felt before you. Difficult to meet your gaze for fear you would discover more about me. I want to wait, but I can’t bear it.  So you do what you want, and as you please. All part of the games we play, isn’t it? (See Original Text)
Terbaik bila berlawan, bermusuh bila berkawan Aku terlepas saat kita bertemu, sebelum pintu itu terbuka. Aku rindu akan rasa itu, sebelum kau ada. Kesukaran bertemu tatapan mu, takut jika kau tahu apa yang tersirat dalam hati. Aku ingin menunggu, tapi aku tak mampu. Jadi kau buatlah apa yang patut, aku rela. Bukankah ini permainan kita? (See English Text)

Nur Khairiyah

Nur Khairiyah
Nur Khairiyah graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts majoring in Theatre Arts. Whilst studying she spent time performing, filming and teaching speech and drama to pre-school children. Khai was also part of The Young Company by the Singapore Repertory Theatre back in 2007. Before going to production full time, she was last seen performing in Traces in-conjunction with The Substation’s Grey Festival back in 2008. Khai is lucky enough to have her fair share of being on stage, backstage and now programming. She was also an Assistant Production Coordinator for the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival and main season productions for The Necessary Stage for 2 years. In between productions, Khai also toured around the heartlands of Singapore to perform on road-shows and during school assemblies.

See Poem

Ariadne to Theseus

Having slain the Minotaur, Theseus feasted with Dionysus before abandoning Ariadne, daughter of King Minos; Dionysus later found and married her. Four nights we feasted, and dipped in golden wine, you began to forge what you couldn’t forget: carcass stench roping after you, shrinking light, your puny fear. That the thread was mine, or the threat my father’s?
Footnotes. To your credit, it only came to this at that last supper where you had me play the beast. From where I lay, our host’s lilting gait
beckoned to where I wouldn’t be a feat, or you a fable. We drugged your glass, left. He, thoughtfully, spread the tale that you’d left, too, for something better. Love came only later, of course, but it didn’t matter: gods are forever.

Theophilus Kwek

Theophilus Kwek
Theophilus Kwek has recently graduated from Raffles Institution—and is currently unemployed. A slim volume of his poetry, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue, was published in 2011 by Ethos Books. 

Ariadne to Theseus

Lost Love

Increasingly dry,
what remains of compassion:
withered flowers,
debris in the path of affection;
blackened instinct;
hatred unfolded.
The wall of devotion
toppled;
silenced joy.
(See Original Text)
Kian kekeringan
Perahan sisa belas murni
Dek tanaman bunga, me layu
Titian kasih
dihinggap butiran debu pelawat
Membajai naluri
mengorak nafsu membenci
Dinding sayang berbalik
Girang menyepi
(See English Text)

Fuzaina binte Jumadi

Fuzaina binte Jumadi A graphic designer with great passion in Malay poetry, Fuzaina Binte Jumadi enjoys sharing her experiences and knowledge through writing. She has been indulging herself in an exciting journey of a 12-month mentorship programme - the Mentor Access Project in 2012. Through this programme, she plans to expand and explore her creativity in writing.

Damba Kasih

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