Singapore Poets Invited to Launch Poetry Park in Australia


A Poetry Park will be launched at the Neil McDougall Park in South Perth, Australia to celebrate the outstanding work and achievements of Western Australia’s poets. The opening also marks the launch of Over There: Poems from Singapore & Australia, an anthology of Singaporean and Australian poets, edited by Alvin Pang and John Kinsella.


The event to be held on Thursday, 15 May 2008 will be officiated by the Honourable Sheila McHale MLA, Australian Minister for Disability Services, Tourism, Culture & the Arts.


The Singapore contingent for the launch led by Lee Suan Hiang, Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council, will comprise Meritorious Service Medal recipient, Professor Edwin Thumboo, distinguished poet and literary scholar, Professor Kirpal Singh, as well as acclaimed Singapore poets, Alvin Pang and Ng Yi-Sheng, and publisher Ethos Books forOver There, Fong Hoe Fang.


Says Lee, “Singapore’s participation in such a major launch offers a great opportunity for us to promote Singaporean literature and our writers in Australia in a big way. Considering the large Australian market for literature in English, it’s indeed a milestone for us and we look forward to more collaborative functions and programmes between both countries in the future.”


First of its kind in Australia, the innovative project was conceived and coordinated by one of Western Australia’s most prolific writers, Ken Spillman. Says Spillman, “Western Australian writers have long thought of themselves as isolated. That may be true in relation to our east coast, but we are realising that proximity to the vibrant artistic culture ofSingapore is much more interesting than connections with Sydney and Melbourne."


Spillman also feels that the attendance of prominent Singapore poets at the launch will give the project an international dimension and will strengthen ties between the literatures of Western Australia and Singapore. "Alvin Pang's work with John Kinsella, one ofAustralia's most celebrated poets, points the way forward.  It's clear that Singaporeliterature has entered an exciting phase, and that we can learn a great deal from each other.  We can inspire each other, too - that's the greatest aspect of it all,” he adds.


Over There is published under the NAC 50Fifty Co-publishing Initiative for publishers. Says Fong, “We are very excited about the level of collaboration and quality work that is coming out of our engagement with the Australian literary world. We hope this will be the genesis of what promises to be a brave new world of literary bridges and sharing that will enhance relationships with our neighbours far south."


About NAC 50Fifty Co-publishing Initiative

The 50Fifty Co-publishing Initiative is a step towards developing a greater pool ofSingapore literature and an investment in the development of Singapore's literary publishing industry. The initiative identifies works that are well-written, distinctive and with a potential to generate domestic and international interest. Books published under the initiative include The Lies That Build a Marriage by Suchen Christine Lim (Monsoon Books), One Earth by Isa Kamari (Original title in Malay - Satu Bumi) (Ethos Books), as well as Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia, edited by Alvin Pang and John Kinsella (Ethos Books).


About the Poetry Park Project

The first phase of the Poetry Park project involves the installation of panels displaying the work of 12 of WA’s most highly-acclaimed poets, as well as a “Poets Walk of Honour” featuring plaques bearing the names of poetry winners of the WA Premier’s Book Award.Poets represented on the panels are John Kinsella, Philip Salom, Fay Zwicky, Andrew Lansdown, Tracy Ryan, Rod Moran, Dennis Haskell, Andrew Taylor, Alec Choate, Miriam Lo, Barbara Temperton and Roland Leach.


Subsequent developments of the park include poetry readings as part of the community events, poetry festivals and the incorporation of poetry into public art. The Poetry Parkproject is funded by the City of South Perth with the assistance of a Lotterywest grant and has the support of the State Library of Western Australia, WritingWA and the South Perth Historical Society.