Second Saturdays Reading Series – November 2014
Words by Jee Leong Koh, and photos by Paul Rozario-Falcone and Guy Humphrey
Is there life after Singapore Literature Festival? If the November edition of the Second Saturdays Reading Series is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes! More than 20 people found themselves in the home of Guy Humphrey and Jee Leong Koh on the Upper West Side on Saturday, November 8, to enjoy a literary brunch. The event was jointly organized with the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers, of which Jee was a council member. The atmosphere was convivial, as always, as the regulars welcomed fresh faces into our midst.
Fellowship was cultivated and consolidated over the potluck brunch, consisting of quiche, fried dumplings, spicy lentil, kale salad, curry chicken, sautéed green beans and asparagus, kare kare (oxtail and tripe in peanut sauce), homemade bread, and pizza topped with beef rendang! And then there were the sweets: chocolate nut pie, scones, dessert meringues, and a chocolate-and-cherry cake from Fay Da Bakery, all washed down with mimosa, wine, juice, and coffee.
Christine Chia kicked off the reading by describing the poetry anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford, which she edited with Joshua Ip. It will be launched in New York at Second Saturday’s January reading. We sent a “Hello, from New York!” to the Singapore launch via a video recording. As Christine had to leave, Jee read on her behalf a poem by her entitled “Plato’s dream of airports.” Then Misty Goh was up and read an original poem “Selective Memories.” Connie Smith read “Chime,” a poem which traced the intimate connections between knowledge and the body. Ng Wun Kuen read two poems, “Crossing the Spiritual Desert” and “The House on Baxter Street.” Lindsay Stern read “Louisa Whitman’s Lullaby” to infant Walt, and an erasure poem taken from The History of Insects by an unknown author. It was a pleasure to hear new poetic voices at Second Saturdays.
The featured reader was Amanda Lee Koe, fresh from her win at the Singapore Literature Prize Awards. She read from her award-winning collection Ministry of Moral Panic the short story “Alice, You Must Be the Fulcrum of Your Own Universe.” The audience was enthralled by the story of the relationship between a teenage girl and an older, and worldlier, woman. After the reading, audience spontaneously praised the story for its insight into two women of such vastly different ages and experience.
Quite unplanned, the reading turned out to be a celebration of women’s experience in women’s own voices. The fact that the room responded with such receptivity showed that the experience, described with great particularity, has universal resonance.
Jee Leong Koh introducing Christine Chia (right)
Misty Goh reading
Wun-Kuen Ng reading
Lindsay Stern reading
Amanda Lee Koe, the featured reader
Kimberley Lim, Wei-Ling Woo, and Amanda Lee Koe
Al Rozario-Falcone, Guy Humphrey, and Connie Smith
Amanda Lee Koe, Christine Chia and Wei-Ling Woo
Wun-Kuen Ng, Al Rozario-Falcone, and Hong-Ling Wee
Wun-Kuen Ng and Michael Slipp
Kazu, Cheryl, and Marty