Care

Look at your hands and feet, you
need to do something about that.
How can you let it fester for so long?
Don’t you realise there’s something wrong?
You don’t want the kids, the dog, the plants,
the pebble, the dust, and the cockroaches
to get it from you. Do you? I worry about
your health. We care
for you.

How are you today? Have you
taken your meds, wash your hands, dis-
infect your whole body? Yes?
Show me your hands. Ok, now wear
the mask and gloves. Don’t get me wrong,
I just want
you to get better.

Have you seen the doctor? What did
he say? Sure? Show me the memo.
Do you feel any more unease? Sure?
Did you finish the whole course of
your medication? Every tablet?
Sure? You better make sure.
Call me a nag but I care
for you.

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Thoughts and comments greatly appreciated!

Character Study Featured In Wallflowers Anniversary Exhibition

Character Study

As a new ‘writer’, I am always happy whenever I am published – be it online or some obscure indie journal. But to be featured in an exhibition is really quite another experience altogether. To see people walking about and looking at your work with some concentration (I would like to think) is really exhilarating and frightening at the same time. You start to get defensive just in case people do not like your work.

Nonetheless, I do embrace this experience as it is all part of creating something. One’s work does not have a life if it stays in the bottom drawer.

Even if I fail, I would often tell myself, “fail often and faster – that way success will just be around the corner.”

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Looking at the other works on display, I must say that there really are a lot of creative talents  here and most of these artists/writers are younger than me! I am glad that my work sits together with them.

IMG_1143

I do hope that the works by these artists will soon be framed with a little card at the bottom right corner stating the dimensions, material, and price.

Quarter-Life Crisis in Malaise Journal

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Dear readers,

I am pleased to announce that my poem, Quarter-life Crisis, has been published in Malaise’s inaugural issue. I was quite surprised that it was accepted as this was dashed off quite quickly. Do let me know what you think of the poem!

For those who are residing in Singapore, Malaise Journal can be purchased at Books Actually and Cat Socrates. Do hurry as this is a limited print run.

For those who have followed my blog, I apologise for the lack of updates. There will be a couple of posts coming up so stay tuned.

Updates

After what seemed like an eternity, my fifth semester as an undergraduate is finally over and the holidays are here! Regrettably, my plan to be consistent in writing a journal failed miserably  - I did not write a single word more after my first entry. It is easy to say that I was too busy to keep a journal but a more accurate description would be that I was too distracted  and my occasional inability to keep it brief often deters me from even starting.

However, something great happened in the middle of my semester! Two of my poems are published in Eastlit which came as a wonderful birthday surprise for me. One of them is written in a voice of a gypsy while the other talks about unfulfilled meetings. You can read them here if you are interested. I appreciate any feedback and comments that you may have! Incidentally, I did have a slightly different version of the poem, Meetings Unmet. You can read the edited version at the bottom of this post. Do tell me which version you prefer.

So what lies ahead during this ridiculously short holiday? In terms of writing, I shall edit a couple of my poems. I also plan to write an article about teamwork on Medium and I will blog my experiences here about trying to write on this new-ish platform and see how it compares with maintaining a blog. I hope to  blog more often on my personal blog too! So here’s wishing my readers Happy Holidays and hopefully my next post won’t merely be just wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

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Meetings Unmet

“Let’s meet up soon!” So you say

with a smile framed by a

colon and bracket closing.

That smile shining with optimism

like a camera’s flash –

illuminating shadows of fond pasts.

But with all flashes,

the promise lingers only an instant.

An instance of politeness?

Of pity? Of custom?

Those four words – a stock phrase,

finalising all conversations, are

steel frames of a pendulum.

And I, the steel ball, thrashes from

euphoria to dejection in an

unspoken hope of it coming true.

Words are feeble straws I

grasp to feed the petering

flame of our conversations –

fleeting and customary greetings

on certain occasions. With a

reactionary crackle, the flame

lives an instance;

enjoys a moment’s brilliance…

Silence –

Only to be broken by remnants of

those four words.  In a jar, I collect

the ashes and wish that an urn

it is not .

A New Decision

The following is a portion of my first diary entry. The parts that are not included in this entry are personal and has nothing to do with writing.

After what seemed like a permanent hiatus, I’ve finally decided to start a diary again. The last time I kept a diary was in my primary school days. I probably had a rather romantic notion about diary keeping which was why I started it then. None of the pages from my childhood still exists. I probably threw it out the last time I cleared my room. Then again, my childish musings could hardly be of any use save for nostalgic amusement. I certainly was no Anne Frank.

This time, I was inspired to restart this habit by two articles that I read today – both of them from The Art of Manliness. The first article was an excerpt from Arnold Bennett about existence and the act of writing a diary. The second article is a more straightforward article about how and why one should start a diary. After giving much thought about it, I realise that both articles have a kernel of truth in it. Besides, now that I’m turning 23 and have been blessed with a decent education, perhaps my thoughts and secrets would be of use to someone – be it my future self or otherwise. The challenge ahead is to be consistent about it.

Those who know me personally will be surprised that I’ve chosen an electronic  medium to write my diary since I’m mostly averse to technology. It would be a beautiful thing if I could spend a couple of hours writing into a leather bound diary with a fountain pen. Alas, I don’t have the luxury of time nor – considering that this is a long term activity – the physical space to keep the diaries. I’ve thought of starting a private blog but that means I’ll not write my most intimate thoughts in it for the fear of someone hacking it or accidentally making the post public. As such, the current arrangement – whatever that is – is the best compromise.

Old but Possibly Interesting Stuff

Dear readers, I would like to thank all new followers to my blog as well as those who have liked and ‘favourited’ my posts. As school has begun, I’m completely swarmed with work and would have very little time to write my thoughts on writing and literature in general. Recently, I’ve rediscovered an old poem I’ve wrote as well as an interview I gave on my thoughts on literature as an editor of the school’s literary journal. I do hope it would be interesting to you. Do let me know your thoughts on my poem as well as my comments on literature!

I wrote the following poem for my cousin’s wedding anniversary.

Anniversary Poem

Here is the interview I gave to my university’s radio station.

If you are wondering what Symbal is about, here is the latest and last issue of Symbal which I will be editing.

Haikews

I recently came across this twitter account, @HaikewsProject. The project is simple: read the news, compose a haiku that essentialises what it’s about and post a link to the story. I thought it was fun and decided to give it a try. The following are what I have come up so far.

For the first few haikus, I wasn’t aware that I needed to post a link to the story.

Vienna Boys’ choir

in deep financial trouble;

best export destroyed.

#Haikews

New flats for singles

with low incomes. Very good

move to house a nation.

#Haikews

Fandi demoted

plagued by egos and crown prince

boss who wants results.

#Haikews #SG #JB

Arts Council head steps

down after four-year tenure.

Search for new chief starts!

#Haikews #SG

After realising that I needed to add a link to my haikus, these were what I came up with.

SightLines saves one show

for Stroke Association.

A good cause indeed!

#Haikews #SG @SightLinesProd  http://ow.ly/nwhfg

First group of students

touring varsity library

this new semester!

#Haikews #SG #NUS @NUSLibraries http://instagram.com/p/cdEcrrHltW/

At this point, I thought I should try to stick closer to the conventions of the form as possible. I felt that I was merely fitting words into word count. A quick search on the internet taught me that I needed to add a ceasura in the first or second line as well as a nature metaphor to provide a “sketch of nature” to those reading the haikus.

Obama observes

demise of newspapers;

sheets of autumn leaves.

#Haikews  http://bit.ly/18T1pQ3 

Simon first-time dad

with close friend’s wife – New bud

blooms from murky roots.

#Haikews  http://bit.ly/15wJFVQ 

Gunman kills neighbours.
Spooked by witchcraft claims he, as
winter dawns within.

#haikews #Miami
http://bit.ly/14Fxhiv

Family Council
writes pledge, no mention of love -
Leaves us feeling cold.
#Haikews #Singapore http://ow.ly/nyE4z 

Australian tax on
bank deposits: Stealing bread
from mouths in winter.
#haikews  http://ow.ly/nyGjH

Tried to come up with a nature metaphor for these two pieces of news but I failed. As such, I just stuck to  the right syllable count.

P.E. syllabus:
more time and variety.
Different reactions.
#haikews #Singapore
http://ow.ly/nyFeY

Girls shave heads for good
cause. Refuse wigs; break promise -
Principal flips out.
#Haikews #Singapore http://ow.ly/nyDuB

It is really an interesting exercise to capture the gist of the news in 14 syllables. It forces you to be straighforward with your delivery and leaves no space for biased flourish. When I added the nature metaphor, I realised that I tend to use it as my personal commentary on the news and it really served me well. If I were to pick my favourite haikew, it would still be the one on Obama observing the demise of newspapers. “Sheets of autumn leaves” is very evocative for me as I could see tonnes of newspapers being tossed out of windows as they fall like autumn leaves. The sight of newspapers falling also reminded of the Chinese funeral tradition of tossing paper offerings in the air as the family walks around the coffin. All in all, it really is a good warm up exercise if you are gearing to write something bigger and longer. It’s like practising your scales before attempting a sonata.

So what are you waiting for? Get on twitter and start writing your own haikews now!

Glimpse of Being A Writer

 

After some consideration mixed with procrastination, I finally decided to give writing a serious try. I have been writing since I was 12 but those dashes of words, pseudo poems and naive musings did not translate into anything serious or concrete. In fact, I stopped writing for about 5 years with a feeble excuse that the muse that has left me. Now in my young adulthood and having the opportunity of starting a literary journal for my varsity, I am flushed with envy at the ability of others and realised that the struggles of writing are something that I am willing to go through. The words of others have often lifted me and now I want to try to create something of my own. This summer, I got a sneak peek of what it takes to be a writer as I wrote a short story and a poem for two writing competitions. But one aspect of the process really bugged me.

One thing I had to do which I have not done so far was field research for my works. I knew that I had to be an observer but I did not expect to be an outsider. Anyone would find my assumption silly – if you are observing something, you are standing outside of the action and this obviously means one has to be an outsider. In my defence, I am aware of this implication but I really saw myself observing what is going on as part of the action; like the teenager walking down the street blind because his eyes are on his phone or the tourist running from spot to spot taking pictures of the most mundane things.

Being there at the setting of my story was an alienating experience; I felt very intrusive and was fraught with doubt. What am I doing here? What right do I have to write these people into my story? At that point, writing seemed to be an insidious exercise. While street photography may be more intrusive as everyone will recognise the unwitting subject in the photo, the subject can request for the photo to be deleted. This does not extend to the people in my story; I am invading their privacy expediently. Of course, we all employ artistic licence in crafting our characters but I am still unable to shake that feeling off.

Where do we draw the line between inspiration and intrusion?