Sunday, January 23, 2011

where to find Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash in Singapore

If you are in Singapore and you are a reader of poetry, you can pick up copies of my two poetry collections Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash, at the newly opened bookstore Birches.  The shop is located at 420 North Bridge Road #04-09.  They are not yet in full operation, having only recently opened for business.  To avoid disappointment, you can call at (65) 9050 5633 before stopping by.

If you are not in Singapore, you can always purchase the books online from The Genre Mall.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Thorn of Lion City

Reading Lucy Lum's memoir The Thorn of Lion City is not exactly pleasant, though the book is pretty well-written.  The fact is, the time represented in the book just wasn't pleasant in Asia, and so reading about it can be pretty uncomfortable.

However, very little of Lum's account of WWII Singapore has to do with the Japanese occupation, to be honest.  The Japanese do appear now and again as the "bad guys," but overall the Japanese occupation is pretty much just the background for the horror that Lum did know in her childhood — the horror of being abused by her mother and grandmother.  Those two actually make the Japanese soldiers look docile and almost kind by comparison.

Stories such as these are never fun to read in the sense that an "escape novel" is — they, instead, depict things even more horrible than those we often hope to escape from in the first place.  That doesn't mean that they should be avoided though.  There is certainly some value in reading books that turn the stomach a little, if for no other reason than for the fact that they remind us that (at least most of us) don't have it so bad after all.  They can make us grateful for things we often take for granted.  And they can give us a picture of the sort of mental toughness required to handle the worst sorts of things that life can throw at us.

At least, that's why I return to books like Lum's — along with the fact that I like reading any depiction of my chosen home(s) that I can.  I can't say I exactly like reading books about common folks during the war, but I do find them useful for these and other reasons.  This is one of several memoirs on my Fill in the Gaps list, and I suspect the others aren't necessarily going to be easier to read than Lum's.  I'll probably put off reading the others for a while, just to get a bit of a breather before encountering another disturbing piece.  But I'll get around to them... eventually.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Um... I doubt that

I have to acknowledge myself as someone who thinks that former Singaporean Prime Ministers (not a long list there...) can be pretty bold in their public statements — sometimes overly so.  Still, I am pretty sure that the lines attributed to a former Singaporean Prime Minister in this video must have been said by someone else, if they were said at all.  Given the recent death of Madame  Lee (the first prime minister's wife) after suffering from a series of strokes, I doubt that any high-ranking Singaporean would have been so insensitive as to have said this.

Just another reason to shake my head at the irresponsibility of the media.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hainan Island

The tropical island of Hainan marks the southern end of China.  Once thought of as the gateway to Hell and used mainly as a site for the internment of exiles in ancient times.  In 1988, the island was set aside as a resort, and has undergone a lot of development since then.

The tropical rainforests of Hainan are quite pretty, as are the beaches — though neither quite compares with Southeast Asia's.  The place is pretty enough, and the seafood is excellent, but the island has more or less become a big tourist trap.  It's fun enough to visit once, but I doubt I'll be too tempted to make a second trip there myself.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am in Hainan island right now, with my godchildren and their family.  They met me here and we're traveling about a little before returning to Singapore together.  I've been away from Singapore for about 4 months this time, and so am especially happy to see my friends and family there.

This is my first trip to Hainan, and I hope to have some great pictures to share when I get back to Singapore.  But for now, I'm off to the beach....!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

It Gets Hard to Keep Up with it all

The peregrine lifestyle can make it difficult to keep up with all the little things one has to take care of day in and day out.  To have a look at what all I'm trying to stay on top of this week as I get ready to make my way back to Singapore, have a look at my main blog.

I hope you don't get worn out just reading it....

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing  is one of the most amazing sites to visit.  The first time there, I was overwhelmed by the weight of history represented on the grounds there.  It was an odd feeling to walk in from the crowded city streets to a place that resounded with a sense of solemnity.

On more crowded days at the Forbidden City (i.e., most of the time), that feeling of cold silence is lacking, but the buildings there still hold such a long,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Two Days: Houston

I am often approached with this question: "I'll be in [fill in the city] for two days. What should I see while I am there?"

In response, I feature 2-day itineraries to a variety of cities here at Peregrine Online. At the end of each month, a new post introduces the main sites to visit in a city if you only have two days there.

Houston may not be the place most people think of as a top tourist destination. Still, there is plenty to do in the city, and two days there can be well-spent. So, today we'll see how to hit the highlights in Houston in a 2-day timeframe.

Day 1

Night:  if there's a professional sporting event to attend, do that; if not, dinner at Kemah Boardwalk

Day 2

Museum of Natural Science, shopping at the Galleria

Alternate sites:  for real shoppers, hit the outlet mall in Cypress

If you have a 3rd day:  a day at the beach and/or on the Strand in Galveston

For kids:  Galveston beach and ferry trip, the Houston Zoo

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Young Singaporean Poets Speak

Date: 13 November 2010
Level 5 - Imagination Room, National Library Building
100 Victoria Street
Singapore, Singapore

What does it mean to create "Singapore literature" in the 21st century? How do local poets taking up the art today locate themselves in relation to their predecessors and to the larger world? Join four young poets--Grace Chua, Koh Xin Tian, Teng Qian Xi and Zhuang Yusa--as they tackle these and other vital questions while relating their thoughts to their own poetic practice.

The event, facilitated by Nicholas Liu, will include readings of poems by each of the writers, a panel discussion and a Q&A session. This session is organised as a collaboration between the National Library Board (under its Experience Singapore Literature program) and the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS).

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