Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The End of his Orbit

In this creaky orbit, I recognize my own return - not to the self I left behind- but to this, my childhood home to pick up the things I still want to keep.

One of them is to learn to read, once again. The poetry thing -I thought when I went to law school and gave up my honours year in NUS, that I had left it behind forever. I left Singapore to escape the past with its horrors, and unknowing, left part of myself behind as well.

But no, wandering into the Marine Parade Library today to pick up travel guides for an upcoming trip to Bali, I glanced around and felt the desire awaken, to once more open a book and have the words illumine, grip my chest with a fervour. I had a craving - for poetry.

Borrowed then read Cyril Wong's second collection of poetry - The end of his orbit - and found myself inexorably pulled back into the love of words. No discernible poetic verse forms, but chains of words falling slowly down a page, linked, always linked to circle back in the end.

A charter of emotions - but with none of the exhausting verbosity one normally associates with most confessional poets. There is instead a deftness with word and metaphor - a coolly calculated use of every phrase, every hyphen and space to coil the reader into the poem.

Thematically, he deals with the quotidian, of half lived lives and the inarticulate desires of the pedestrian man on the street - a poetry not so much set in Singapore as marked by it. In his poems, behind the words, you see the flats, the everyday of Singapore enlarged with detail before your eyes, the quiet unutterable pain and urban loneliness that lurk behind the smiles and brightly painted gateways to HDB flats.

This is a poet who goes behind- HDB flats, people's eyes, altars, delves into ipods - he is strongest when dealing with the poetry of journeys, both to and from relationships.

Then the orbit becomes clear - Penelope's loneliness, mermaid's choices, the universality of wolves and those who wear red hoods feature quietly in the last segment - the movement away from the MRT trains and familial disputes to the classics, from the geographically specific to the culturally universal then back again to show that even in the land of myth and fable, the journey is the same.

No comments: