Not many people know that the great Chinese scholar Jao Tsung-I spent five years in Singapore as the first Chair and Head of Chinese Studies at the former University of Singapore. Appointed to an eight-year term in 1968, he left prematurely in 1973. This poem, which he wrote on his departure, now appears in English for the first time.
Written in Tamil by respected Singapore media professional Saba Muthunatarajan and translated into English by his daughter Saaradhaa Muthunatarajan, this poem is a celebration on life in the face of death, inviting readers to reflect on the value of experiences of all kinds, and the joy offered by a graceful ending.
Tse Hao Guang 謝皓光, co-editor of the cross-genre, collaborative e-journal OF ZOOS, translates this poem by celebrated broadcast journalist and TV screenwriter Amanah Mustafi from Malay into English. Vivid and intensely emotional, the poem depicts the pain of waiting for something that is ultimately a mirage.
Migrant worker Zhang Haitao’s poem speaking of his longing for home was a shortlisted entry in the 2015 Singapore Migrant Worker Poetry Competition. Playing with structure and continuity, the poem reflects on what it means to simultaneously experience the reality of the physical world and to dream of faraway joys.
Selected for Singapore Translation Month 2017, this Tamil poem is written and translated by two of Singapore’s most respected media professionals. This piece examines the often-deprecated worth of a mother and what we may be taking for granted. Does this apply too when it comes to one’s mother tongue and mother land?
Translated into English from Malay, this poem by writer and translator Ahmad Md Tahir reflects on the promises of freedom through the lens of an arowana. Also known as the dragonfish, the arowana was once common across the Malay Peninsula but is now an endangered species that symbolises good luck and prosperity.
Written in Tamil and self-translated into English, this poem by writer and translator Mathialagan Manimala reflects on the disjoint between idealism, aesthetics, externality, and the realities of life. What does it ultimately mean to value externalities and conceptions of what is perfect? What truly lasts in the end?
Using the traditional 8-line structure of a Chinese classical poem, this piece by Hou Wei was shortlisted in the 2015 Singapore Migrant Worker Poetry Competition. It contemplates what it means to be away from home, and the important role imagination plays in the process of creating a new life in an unfamiliar land.