Student Jonathan Goh writes record longest poem in Singapore, with more than 15,000 lines

Student Jonathan Goh wrote more than 15,000 lines of rhyming couplets in a poem titled Eludoran: The Legend of Lorelei in A Geste of Grave Misconceptions, which bagged him a place in the Singapore Book of Records. PHOTO: JONATHAN GOH  
Student Jonathan Goh wrote more than 15,000 lines of rhyming couplets in a poem titled Eludoran: The Legend of Lorelei in A Geste of Grave Misconceptions, which bagged him a place in the Singapore Book of Records. PHOTO: JONATHAN GOH  

SINGAPORE - More than 15,000 lines of rhyming couplets have bagged student Jonathan Goh a place in the Singapore Book of Records.

The poem, titled "Eludoran: The Legend of Lorelei in A Geste of Grave Misconceptions" is set in a fantasy world. The main character, a female animal, tries to prove to her possessive father that she is more than a dainty princess, and the poem details her journey through that.

Mr Goh, 25, is currently studying for an Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Western Australia. He said that the poem was inspired by an unfinished one he read penned by Lord of The Rings author J.R.R Tolkien.

On his choice of writing the story in the form of a poem, he said: "If you are a fantasy fan, there is something that grabs you, even more so than prose. It's the harmony of the rhythm," he told The Straits Times over the phone from Australia.

An avid reader, Mr Goh took to writing in primary school. "I couldn't find the materials I was interested to read, so I started writing them," he said.

He likes fantasy stories that involve animal characters.

He recently bagged the first prize for his age category in a poetry competition open to the whole of Perth. He has hired an agent, and is hoping to internationally publish his poem.

It is not his first time trying to publish his works.

Wanting to support him in his writing, his parents, teacher Madam Tay Siew Choo, and Mr Goh Eng Tat - a director at the Singapore Sports Council -have printed books featuring his works, and sold them to friends and family.

It was Madam Tay, 55, who submitted her son's labour of love, written over more than a year, to be considered for the records.

Madam Tay said: "I wanted to give him a surprise. It's something he very much wanted."

Mr Goh is also trying to get global recognition for his work. He submitted his poem to the Guinness World Records, but he said they do not have a category for poems.

He told ST: "They claim that 'poems are hard to define' and difficult to judge, but agreed that (my poem) is a definite contender for 'Longest' in its particular category."

Here is an excerpt from the poem.

Once long ago there was a maid

completely reckless; unafraid

to mock the Thousand and the creed

that every yearling has to heed,

forsaking dens to wander far 5

away from kindred--sons of Kar--

those exiles cast from homeland heath

who roam the tundra; set adrift

by unforgiving tides of war...

jalmsab@sph.com.sg