Poetry of/or about Southeast Asia

Featured Books

* Tribute to Brunei and Other Poems
* Thai Comic Books: Poems from my life in Thailand with the Peace Corps: 1967-1969
* Fuchsia in Cambodia: Poems
* Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry
* Saints, Sinners and Singaporeans : A Collection of Poems

Tribute to Brunei and Other Poems

Tribute to Brunei

by John Onu Odihi
TraffordSG, 2012

In this new collection of poetry, Tribute to Brunei and Other Poems, the verses represent the synoptic capture of particular environments and incidents, as well as author John Onu Odihi’s reflection of them. Presented in a rich texture of imageries, the entries on Brunei, which form a major part of the book, portray a beautiful and peaceful country where modernity and tradition blend to form a harmonious socio-cultural environment. Odihi’s depiction of the serenity of Brunei’s pristine environment in an increasingly browning world and the vivacity of cultural life in the Abode of Peace can whet your appetite for a visit to the sultanate. Through poems such as “Programme Me” “Heed the Call” and “Let’s Help Each Other” Odihi gives cogent reasons for the celebration of human diversity and relinquishment of bigotry, prejudice, and such other vices that divide people. By extolling the virtues of hard work, unity, teamwork, sincerity, faithfulness, and commitment, Odihi’s Tribute to Brunei and Other Poems presents a strong voice in the ethics that are necessary for peace and human advancement. Bless You Always Brunei Darussalam Abode of Peace You are a jewel May the Sun of Righteousness Rise and shine upon you always Let there always be justice Let there always be goodness Within your borders let mercy flow May your inward beauty radiate Like diamond in the sun….

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Thai Comic Books: Poems from my life in Thailand with the Peace Corps: 1967-1969

 Thai Comic Books: Poems from my life in Thailand with the Peace Corps: 1967-1969

by Burgess Needle
Big Table Publishing Company, 2012

Burgess Needle’s poetry collection distills the essence of his two-year sojourn in Thailand as a Peace Corps cultural exchanger. Readers travel with him when he meets his new headmaster, witnesses a school flogging, and feels like an idiot as he attempts to explain the conjugation of “to be.” As his Thai language skills evolve, likewise does his consciousness as he thinks in terms of earning merits for next lifetime. Beneath the ever-oppressive glaring sun, Needle gradually experiences more commonalities, but when he is assigned to teach baseball he discovers its incompatibility with Thai life, for “No one wanted to cover first base, die and return prematurely as a dog or peacock.” Thus is this collection peppered with pathos, humor and endless delight. ~ Rebecca Leo, The Flaws That Bind Burgess Needle is our guide through this thoughtful collection of poems recounting the sights, sounds, tastes, and aromas of Thailand in the late 1960s. He warns of the danger of landmines and cobras, yet lures us in with the scent of kerosene wicks, cigarettes and whiskey, and I found myself hearing the language of villagers, the lowing of buffalo, and the chattering monkeys as war is waged in the distance. Thai Comic Books is Needle examining his own misgivings and good intentions as he explores the hopes and fears of the people he meets. ~ Jonathan K. Rice, Iodine Poetry Journal Exotic but not alienating, memoir-like but musical and unpredictable, Thai Comic Books reminds us that good poetry is both timeless and borderless. ~ Jefferson Carter, Get Serious

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Fuchsia in Cambodia: Poems 

by Roy Jacobstein
Triquarterly, 2008

Suffused with tenderness and humor, the poems in this collection take readers on a journey through emotions, across national boundaries, and even along the geographic timeline. The quick mind of author Jacobstein creates fluid verse that can take on the singular geography of his native Michigan or the story of an immigrant cab driver with ease. His elegant rhyme and clever rhythm are suited equally to an ode to the stegosaurus and to his many poems for his adopted daughter. He moves readers from Washington, D.C., to Delhi, from adolescence to fatherhood, and between heaven and earth. With its immersive voice and sensitive examinations, this set of verses retains its sense of wonder at all the beautiful hellos and good-byes that humans come to know well in their too-short lifetimes.

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Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry 

Black Dog, Black Night

edited by Paul Hoover and Nguyen Do
Universal Publishers, 2008

The poems in Black Dog, Black Night highlight an aspect of Vietnamese verse previously unfamiliar to American readers: its remarkable contemporary voices. Celebrating Vietnam’s diverse and thriving literary culture, the poems collected here combine elements of French Romanticism, Russian Expressionism, American Modernism, and native folk stories into a Vietnamese poetic tradition marked by vivid imagery, powerful emotions, and inventive forms. Included here are 17 postmodern and experimental Vietnamese poets, including the founding editor of Skanky Possum magazine, as well as American poets of Vietnamese descent.

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Saints, Sinners and Singaporeans : A Collection of Poems

 

Saints, Sinners and Singaporeans : A Collection of Poems

by Damien Sin
Angsana Books, 1998

This selection of 50 poems is thoroughly personal, culled from the experiences of the author’s life. Childhood memories are reflected in poems with a playful use of words. In other poems, you can hear the plaintive cry of the poor and outcast. Although dark and laced with despair, the verses in the collection always offer hope and salvation. The poems reflect a spectrum of the author’s experiences, including early childhood, National Service, the Oxford education, the heroin addiction and various spells of incarceration. Sin uses inspiration, colors and sounds to express nameless, complex emotions and breaks through the obstacles of culture and grammar to speak the secret language of the heart. The language of a Singapore that cries out from the margins.

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