Aug 9, 1965: Poetry and history

How two poets witnessed Singapore's separation through their writing

At a recent discussion at The Arts House on poetry and history, the chairman asked me how poetry can be a witness to history. I hesitated, but was prodded by poet, graphic novelist and literary critic Gwee Li Sui into recalling that I had written a poem about the day in August when Singapore separated from Malaysia.

It was titled 9th August 1965 and it appeared in my first book of poems - Coming Home, Baby - published in 1971.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Aug 9, 1965: Poetry and history'. Subscribe