Bookends

Poet Alvin Pang co-edited Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat, 50 Years Of Writing From Singapore.
Poet Alvin Pang co-edited Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat, 50 Years Of Writing From Singapore.PHOTO: PRESTIGE MAGAZINE

Who: Alvin Pang, 43, poet

In 1985, when he was a Secondary 1 student in Raffles Institution, Pang was told to compare two poems about the sea for his literature class.

Deciding that neither poem really captured what it was like to be in the sea in Singapore, Pang wrote his first poem to express his feelings.

Today, he is an established poet in Singapore. He was named Young Artist of the Year (Literature) by the National Arts Council Singapore in 2005 and has been published locally and internationally.

He is also the editor-in-chief of Ethos, a publication by the Civil Service College.


Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat,
50 Years Of Writing From Singapore edited by Alvin Pang and Ravi
 Shankar

Most recently, he co-edited Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat, 50 Years Of Writing From Singapore, a 640 plus-page anthology with contributions from writers from Singapore, the United States and other countries.

The publication is a collaboration with noted US online journal Drunken Boat, which is founded by Ravi Shankar, an Indian-American poet-in- residence and professor of English at Central Connecticut State University.

What are you reading now?

I'm reading Deeds Of Light by Tse Hao Guang and For The End Comes Reaching by David Wong. They are Singaporean poets.

The poetry collections are released under the new Ten Year Series imprint by Math Paper Press, which promises rigour in its selection of manuscripts. 


Deeds Of Light
 by Tse Hao Guang

I want to see if all that editorial discipline and intensive workshopping pay off in these books and, so far, it has been good.


For The
End Comes Reaching by David
 Wong

I find Deeds Of Light enjoyable as it is quite diverse in scope and technically ambitious.

For The End Comes Reaching is worth a read as it strikes a strong elegiac note for a loved one who has died and is missed.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I would grab my digital devices as they contain entire libraries of material, some of which are not available in print.

Many of my books that are in digital form include my own writing and early or unpublished works by local writers who are now famous, such as Alfian Sa'at, Cyril Wong, Amanda Lee Koe, as well as many international authors I have gotten to know over the years.

Nothing lasts forever so I would not save physical books unless I can save all of them, which is probably impossible.

  • Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat, 50 Years Of Writing From Singapore edited by Alvin Pang and Ravi Shankar (Ethos Books, 2015, $25.00) is available at ethosbooks.com.sg. Deeds Of Light by Tse Hao Guang (Math Paper Press, 2015, $16.00) and For The End Comes Reaching by David Wong (Math Paper Press, 2015, $16.00) are available at BooksActually
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Bookends'. Print Edition | Subscribe