Poetic Excerpts from Singapore

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Poetry moves with rhyme and rhythm. Here are excerpts from a featured poet at the Singapore Writers Festival 2018.

By Charlene Shepherdson  

“Do the stains on my tips make you wonder if this is just the tip of an iceberg?”

Excerpt of Knots (part of In the Twine for Singapore Writers Festival)

My grandma used to warn me

of the monster trees that would grow in my belly

if I swallowed watermelon seeds.

She’d warn me of the blob living in my stomach

from all the chewing gum I swallowed as sweets.

 

These days, I think of her whenever I have butterflies in my tummy,

are the knots in my stomach really chrysalis

waiting to swallow me whole?

 

First Ladies of Books

call us the patron saints of books and media,

the first ladies of literacy…or teachers, anything, just remember,

our names are Marie, Hedwig, Joyce, Eleanor and Lydia.

 

catalogues in libraries, each alphabet a novena,

students whispering stories, recess to dismember.

call us the patron saints of books and media.

 

twenty-seven libraries and an archive, wikipedia

Remembers when raffles library was inferior. in ember,

our names are Marie, Hedwig, Joyce, Eleanor and Lydia.

 

an oasis of words: our bus Molly, bless her.

we pedalled volumes from january to december,

call us the patron saints of books and media.

 

footnotes of references, pages of encyclopedia,

forget surnames married then buried in amber,

our names are Marie, Hedwig, Joyce, Eleanor and Lydia.

 

strike your breasts, proclaim yourselves carrier,

inject a nation of literacy warriors.

call us the patron saints of books and media,

our names are Marie, Hedwig, Joyce, Eleanor and Lydia.

 

Excerpt of Storm Clouds

Did you read the newspaper this morning?

Do you recognise the newsprint ink on my fingers?

Do the stains on my tips make you wonder

if this is just the tip of an iceberg?

 

There is a storm brewing today:

Newsfeeds flooding the back lanes of information.

An air of electricity, a breath away from lightning.

 

I’m afraid to let go of my breath

in case the puff of air from my lips is the final push

toppling the immigration cards we have stacked in our favour.

 

We have forgotten the myths hiding

in the cracks of our foundation – that this nation

was built on thunderstorms.


Charlene Shepherdson is a performance poet. Her works include interactive narratives, visual poetry, and the intersection where environment, heritage and education meet. Her words have been published in various anthologies, including From Walden to Woodlands and A Luxury We Cannot Afford

Photo credits: The Arts House

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