When I asked Joshua Ip where I could find good empat perkataan poetry (because I adore the form), he recommended using Facebook Search on "SingPoWriMoDay16" or simply purchasing the SingPoWriPo 2015 anthology. So it was with great enthusiasm that I trooped down to Books Actually this past Saturday afternoon to grab this title at a mere $21. It is very good value for money you know, with 157 poems, it works out to $0.13 per poem. But of course, we shouldn't be placing a monetary value on art like that.
Back to the review. If you are unaware, SingPoWriMo is a poetry challenge set up by a bunch of people in the month of April to write a poem a day for the thirty days of that month. The organisers came up with a bunch of creative, difficult and very interesting prompts and posted them up on Facebook. This book is a distillation of the best works.
After buying the book, I headed over to Forty Hands opposite and grabbed a flat white before settling down comfortably to start reading. I flipped to Day 16 as instructed by Joshua and read his "there are four kinds of people in this world" without understanding 90% of it but loving the rhythm. Then I realised that it was on Day 12 that the prompt was to write empat perkataans.
I LOVED "my city, a history" by Jerome Lim the most.
After that, I just flipped back and forth between pages at random and was delighted to find that excellent poetry on almost every single page. I didn't pay much attention to the prompts listed at the beginning of each chapter at first, but found that when I did, I was able to better appreciate the constraints the poets had to put themselves through.
My favourite prompt has to be Day 19: Write a poem about a Singaporean neighbourhood as if it were a person. Benzie Dio's "Stamford Road" was BRILLIANT and set the tone for the rest of the poems for that chapter. His name looked familiar and I vaguely recall that he taught GP at the Junior College I attended a decade ago.
A while later, a friend of mine came over for coffee and I showed her the book. She was very amused and entertained by one. I was surprised (because she doesn't read much poetry) asked her why she was laughing so much and she showed me "there are four kinds of people in this world" and began explaining what it meant, breaking it down for me line by line. I must say, I have never learnt so much about mahjong in one afternoon. This shows that poetry is truly for everyone. You just need to find one that resonates.
And I am sure that in this volume, you can definitely find a poem or two that you'd like very much. You could even find one to write it in a birthday card for a friend. It would also make an excellent Christmas present for absolutely anyone at all.
Pick up this book at Books Actually today!