Meet the 'rebel girls' of Singapore poetry

These young poets are not afraid to speak their minds, for better or for verse, tackling taboos where others might flinch away. Olivia Ho finds out

Remote video URL
Gaze Back (right, $16.82 before GST) by Marylyn Tan (left) is available from Books Kinokuniya, MPH, City Book Room, Grassroots Book Room, selected Times bookstores and ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

When Marylyn Tan published her debut poetry collection Gaze Back, she received this glowing endorsement from her mother: "Eh, not very nice to write like that."

Gaze Back is not in the least "nice". Tan, 25, writes about women, bodies and sexuality with unflinching frankness. She re-imagines Jesus as a teenage girl who "finds walking on water easier/ than walking home alone at night". She discusses the shaving of armpits.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline Meet the 'rebel girls' of Singapore poetry. Subscribe