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Urban Poetry Urban Poetry

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1 Urban Poetry Urban Poetry
No Other City No Other City Urban Poetry Urban Poetry

2 Urban Poetry Scope of the Lecture Concept of ‘Urbanness’
Lines of tension brought about by change Background of Singapore Poetry Reasons for creating an anthology of Singapore Poetry How do the editors decide on what to include in the anthology and how to divide the various sections of the anthology? General Themes in No Other City Poetry as a literary genre The sound of poetry The way poets think The product of a poem How to make this lecture relevant to IOP No Other City Urban Poetry

3 ‘Urban’ as a modifier Think of as many words that collate with ‘Urban’. What is the general feeling that the word ‘Urban’ gives to you? Is it Positive or Negative? What would Urban Poetry be about?

4 Draw a connection with your earlier discussion to these words.
“We had moved, in the space of a generation, from kampong to metropolis, from kopi to cappuccino, from semi-literacy to palmtop microcomputers. Our writing, we realised, was and had always been trying to deal with this flux.” Introduction, p.22

kampong to metropolis - living spaces kopi to cappuccino - lifestyle - taste - class/status semi-literacy to palmtop microcomputers - technology - education/mindsets/ behaviour/ interaction

6 Lines of tension brought about by change
New vs Old Past vs Present Modernity vs Tradition Technology vs Nature Me vs Them Foreign vs Local Development vs Destruction Space vs Place Landscape vs Mindscape Comfort vs Community Day vs Night Growth vs Regression Vision vs Execution Good vs Bad Logic vs Passion Man vs Environment Nature vs Man Age vs Youth Wisdom vs Intelligence Private vs Public

7 Poetry in Singapore (I)
Our colonial heritage and English-based education system, Singapore is one of the few territories in Asia with a strong tradition of writing in English. The first significant native writing occurred in the 50s and 60s, energised by the independence movement, and the decades of “nation-building” which followed.

8 Poetry in Singapore (II)
Poetry in the late 90s enjoyed something of a renaissance, with the happy confluence of several positive factors: Rise of the Internet Emergence of small literary presses Arrival of a new generation of young poets.

9 Poetry in Singapore (III)
New poets typically in their twenties to early thirties many are professionals in fields far removed from poetry. several have been educated at top schools overseas. their very different backgrounds allow this new breed of Singaporean poets a fresh perspective and energy that has been lacking in the scene for decades.

10 Poetry in Singapore (IV)
The new poetry is wonderfully diverse, yet distinctively urban and cosmopolitan, modern, frequently street-wise, often startlingly intimate.

11 Poetry in Singapore (V)
But poetry seldom make the headlines (given the nature of the market forces): literary arts play poor cousin to glitzier genres such as the performing arts, visual arts and music Singaporean writing is also glaringly absent from our schools, which at any rate are steeped in the Cambridge exam syllabus and tend to eschew the “difficult” subject of literature.

12 What are some reasons for creating an anthology?

13 Reasons for the creation of the anthology given by the editor.
allow publication of works that would otherwise find difficulty in being published increasing number of young people writing in poetry to express themselves exploration of the urban city-state from different points of view allow for diversity of voices which were of a certain standard, spanning different generations

14 coming of age of a country’s poetry
Other reasons for the creation of anthologies. coming of age of a country’s poetry recognition of the different voices in a country easy reference (eg. anthology of English or American poetry gives an overview of the subject) Can be seen as a selection of what is worthy of publication and hence, preservation of memory, in a country

15 How do the editors decide on what to include in the anthology and how to divide the various sections of the anthology?

16 How poems were selected…
p Introduction gives reasons for WHAT was included: “resonance & relevance” “strength of writing” which were fully formed Balanced “new voices and perspectives” with older voices  even then, the editors looked for new works Avoided canonised works because relevance rather than reputation guided entry into anthology

17 (p.24-25): Division of various sections
“broad thematic clusters”  narrowed down tended to follow a certain chronology with the concerns reflected being that of each generation

18 THEMES: Tradition vs Modernity (eg
THEMES: Tradition vs Modernity (eg. A brief history of Toa Payoh, old house at ang siang hill) Change (eg. Singapore River, Change Alley) City-Planning/Nation building (eg. The Planners, The Way Ahead, Cranes, Road-works) Loss / Nostalgia (eg. Amoy Street Houses, old house at ang siang hill)

19 THEMES: City vs Nature (Urbanisation) (eg
THEMES: City vs Nature (Urbanisation) (eg. Trees are Only Temporary, remembering trees, Trees) Identity (eg. Made of Gold) Advancement (Upgrading) (eg. Bigger, Newer, Better) City-living & Restrictions (eg. The Flat-Owner, Train Ride, Animal Farm)

20 Poetry as a literary form - memorable, lives in our head and hearts
valued for its wisdom, consolation and consolidation immediacy

21 Poetry as an auditory medium Poetry is something that is read aloud – a form of address, a way of speaking, something said and heard the voice that we hear in a poem is ‘made’. Is it close to ordinary ‘conversational’ speech or theatrical? Do we hear the poetry on a public occasions such as a weddings or funerals or overhear it, like an intimate bedroom conversation? We hear the tone of the poem in pitch, pace, in timbre and intonation; would the meaning of the poem change if we alter volume, pace and pitch? what kind of emotional colouring is given to a subject matter because of the way it is being ‘heard’?

22 Approaches – Poets ‘think’ in a number of ways.
- reflect on experiences - advance general statements - take unfamiliar looks at common phenomenon/beliefs/etc

23 Poets essentially think in and through the images and symbols they deploy, by that they create imaginative worlds Dream worlds New worlds Re-created worlds Familiar worlds A world where present and past co-exist in the case of No Other City, the poets remake Singapore and present essential features of a world familiar to us.


25 How to make this lecture relevant to you preparation of IOP

26 While you read the anthology and contemplate on an appropriate IOP topic seek out relevance and resonance. 2. Consider how has the poet used a relevant subject and connected it to relevant theme. 3. Investigate how the relevant subject and relevant theme(s) have been made to resonant a. The quality of the resonance – intellectual, emotional, inventive … b. Reaction to the resonance - introspection, retrospection, contemplation, revelation, provocation.

27 Grouping poems or texts based on common subject - common theme(s) - quality of resonance - type of response (attitude) - common literary devise (symbols, imagery, structure) b. Close analysis of ONE poem

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