Saturday, March 31, 2007

Yong Shu Hoong

Along with the book by Cyril Wong that I mentioned recently, I have also read another book by a poet from Singapore: Frottage, by Yong Shu Hoong. I first read Hoong's work in Wong's on-line poetry magazine Softblow. (Disclaimer again: I've had work in that magazine.) I was interested in reading more, so I traded books with him (the best way to get poetry published in Singapore!).

With my mind on Wong's tsunami poem "That Day," what struck me most in Hoong's book was a poem called "Ground Zero"—not, as an American might expect, a poem about the destruction of the World Trade Center or the site thus created, but a prose poem about visiting the site of the discotheque bombing in Bali. These poems provide perspective on "September 11" poems by Americans: here are poets from another country, vividly and memorably addressing the tragedies of their own region. To read these poems and then turn back to poems about September 11 is to widen one's perspective, even if the September 11 poem in question has as broad a perspective already as, say, Martin Espada's "Alabanza."

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