The Irishman takes his coffee from the waitor, smiles and nods his thanks. Labels: The Book of All Hours. Thick With Trees And Thunderstorms North Carolina, where the old 70 that runs from Hickory to Asheville cuts across the running up from the South, from Spartanburg and beyond, up through the Blue Ridge Mountains and a land that's thick with trees and thunderstorms.
It's on the map, but it's a small town, or at least it looks it, hidden from the freeway, until you cut down past the sign that says Welcome To Marion, A Progressive Town, and gun your bike slow through the streets of the town centre with its thrift stores and pharmacy, fire department, town hall, the odd music store or specialist shop that's yet to lose its market to the Wal-Mart just a short drive down the road. She rides past the calm, brick-fronted architecture that's still somewhere in the 's, sleeping, waiting for a future that's never going to happen, dreaming of a past that never really went away, out of the small town centre and onto a commercial strip of fast food restaurants and diners, a steak house and a Japanese, a derelict cinema sitting lonely in the middle of its own car park - all of these buildings just strung along the road like cheap plastic beads on a ragged necklace.
She pulls off the road into a Hardee's, switches off the engine and kicks down the bike-stand. The burger tastes good - real meat in a thick, rough-shapen hunk, not some thin bland patty of processed gristle and fat - and she washes it down with deep sucking slurps of Mountain Dew, and twirls the straw in the cardboard bucket of a cup to rattle the ice as she looks out the window at the road, hot in the summer sun, humid and heavy. The sky is a brilliant blue, the blue of a Madonna's robes, stretching up into forever, stretching - - and she stands in front of the mirror in the washroom, leaning on the sink a second, dizzy with a sudden buzz, a hum, a song that ripples through her body like the air over a hot road shimmers in the sun.
The Cant. Shit, she thinks. She must be getting close. She looks at the watch sitting up on top of the hand-dryer. The second hand flicks back and forth, random, sporadic, like one of those aeroplane instruments in a movie where the plane is going down in an electrical storm.
It's August 4th, Sort of. Steady again, she studies her eyes, black with mascara and with lack of sleep, and pushes her dark red hair back from her forehead. Even splashing more water on her face she still feels like a fucking zombie. Fucking zombie retro biker chick, she thinks. Beads in her hair, a beaded choker round her neck, a chicken-bone charm necklace over a gold circuit-patterned t-shirt. Shit, she looks like her fucking techno-hippy mother. She picks up her watch and slips it over her wrist, reels out the earphones from the stick clipped to her belt and puts them in, clipping them into the booster sockets in her earrings so her lenses can pick up the video signals.
The Sony VR5 logo flickers briefly across her vision as she shoulders her way out through the door, tapping at the datastick to switch it onto audio-only. She doesn't need a heads-up weather forecast with ghost images of clouds or sunbursts, or a Routefinder sprite floating at every turn-off to point her this way or that. Not today. She grabs her helmet from the handlebar of the bike and puts it on as she swings her leg up over the seat, flicks up the stand, zips up her leather biker jacket, kicks the engine into life.
The antique creature of steel and chrome growls between her legs, and another antique creature - one of leather and vinyl - screams in her ears. But Tommy now… Tommy reaches over and takes the book out of his hands, shaking his head. Fooken shite! Fookin Hun fookin bastards! Tommy are ye alright there?
He looks at Seamus like he's looking right through him, eyes wide, nostrils flared, seeing and scenting his own golden, pouncing death. Kouroi I Among narcissi, hyacinths and cypress trees Pan teaches shepherd Daphnis how a pipe can please. Here, let me show you Lips purse, blow a tender breeze, A touch of tasting breath, a gentle tease. Eyes closed, Daphnis is blind as Thamyris who kissed That flower of a boy doomed to Apollo's deadly disc.
On his foreskin he can feel the slip of tongue, the nip of tooth. Along with Chonus and Nireus, which proud Argonauts gave great Herakles peace? With Elacatus and Polyphemus, was Jason naked on his golden fleece? Did Stychius get sticky, Philoctetes icky, or Iolaus, or sweet young Phrynx? Ah, but then Vowing from then to lose his head only for love of men. III So, more than lovers, less than brothers, maybe something deeper and more close Glints in the armour of Achilles strapped to Patroklus, or in the clothes Of Jonathon as David wears them, lifts a sleeve, a scent of sweat, up to his nose.
More than lovers; more than brothers? Or, like Castor and Pollux, both? Labels: poetry. Built by bitmites in an afterworld of myth and history, the city has been known by many names in its time—Urauk, Enoas, Babalon, Atlantium, Byzantis, Arom. Its truest name though is Errata, an apt name for a city in which language itself has been unleashed to shatter and reshape identity, where even space and time are in flux.
From the most practical techniques in writing narrative at the sentence-level, through to the theories that will help you see the shape of a story, you'll be taught the skills required to conjure your imaginings in a reader's mind. Discount for students. VELLUM: The Book of All Hours 1 It's and the end days are coming, beings that were once human gathering to fight in one last great war for control of the Vellum - the vast realm of eternity on which our world is just a scratch.
But to a draft-dodging Irish angel and a trailer-trash tomboy called Phreedom, it's about to become brutally clear that there's no great divine or diabolic plan at play here, just a vicious battle between the hawks of Heaven and Hell, with humanity stuck in the middle, and where the easy rhetoric of Good and Evil, Order versus Chaos just doesn't apply. Here there are no heroes, no darlings of destiny struggling to save the day, and there are no villains, no dark lords of evil out to destroy the world. Or at least if there are, it's not quite clear which is which. Here, the most ancient gods and the most modern humans are equally fate's fools, victims of their own hubris, struggling to save their own skins, their own souls, but sometimes But in a moment of brutal transfiguration, they became unkin, beings who possessed the power to alter reality by accessing the Vellum: a realm of eternity containing every possibility, every paradox, every heaven.
The Vellum became a battleground where forces of order and chaos fought across time and space. The ultimate weapon in that bloody war spanning through history and myth, dreams and memory, was The Book of All Hours, a legendary tome within which the blueprint for all reality is inscribed, a volume long lost amid the infinite folds of the Vellum. Until, in , it was found by Reynard Carter, a young man with the blood of unkin in his veins. Until Phreedom Messenger and her brother, Thomas, were swept up in an archetypal dance of death and rebirth.
Until a hermit named Seamus Finnan found the courage to re-forge his broken soul, and a self-proclaimed angel called Metatron unleashed a plague of AI bitmites. I dreamt of cargo. Thousands of crates filled the airplane's hold, all made of unfinished pine, the kind that drives slivers through work gloves. They were stamped with unknowable numbers and bizarre acronyms that glowed fiercely with dim red light.
They were supposed to be jeep tires, but some were as large as a house, others as small as a spark plug, all of them secured to pallets with binding like straitjacket straps. I tried to check them all, but there were too many. There was a low shuffling as the boxes shifted, then the cargo fell on me. I couldn't reach the interphone to warn the pilot.
The cargo pressed down on me with a thousand sharp little fingers as the plane rolled, crushing the life out of me even as we dived, even as we crashed, the interphone ringing now like a scream. But there was another sound too, from inside the crate next to my ear.
Something struggled inside the box, something sodden and defiled, something that I didn't want to see, something that wanted. It changed into the sound of a clipboard being rapped on the metal frame of my crew house bunk. My eyes shot open. The airman-new in-country, by the sweat lining his collar-stood over me, holding the clipboard between us, trying to decide if I was the type to rip his head off just for doing his job.
I sat up and stretched. He handed me the clipboard and attached manifest: a knocked-down HU with flight crew, mechanics, and medical support personnel bound for… somewhere new. Timehri used to be Atkinson Air Force Base. Americans in trouble. I'd spent a good part of my Air Force career flying Americans out of trouble. That being said, flying Americans out of trouble was a hell of a lot more satisfying than hauling jeep tires.
I thanked him and hurried into a clean flight suit. I was looking forward to another Panamanian Thanksgiving at Howard Air Force Base-eighty-five degrees, turkey and stuffing from the mess hall, football on Armed Forces Radio, and enough time out of flight rotation to get good and drunk. The in-bound hop from the Philippines went by the numbers and both the passengers and cargo were free and easy. Now this.
Interruption was something you grew accustomed to as a Loadmaster. The C StarLifter was the largest freighter and troop carrier in the Military Air Command, capable of carrying seventy thousand pounds of cargo or two hundred battle-ready troops and flying them anywhere in the world.
Half as long as a football field, the high-set swept-back wings drooped bat-like over the tarmac. With an upswept T-tail, petal-doors, and a built-in cargo ramp, the StarLifter was unmatched when it came to moving cargo. Part stewardess and part moving man, my job as a Loadmaster was to pack it as tight and as safe as possible. With everything onboard and my weight and balance sheets complete, the same airman found me cussing up the Panamanian ground crew for leaving a scuffmark on the airframe.
Change in plans," he yelled over the whine of the forklift. He handed me another manifest. Med crew is staying here. Again, I strained to hear him. Or maybe I heard him fine and with the sinking in my gut, I wanted him to repeat it. I wanted to hear him wrong. Timehri was your typical third-world airport-large enough to squeeze down a , but strewn with potholes and sprawling with rusted Quonset huts.
The low line of jungle surrounding the field looked as if it had been beaten back only an hour before. Helicopters buzzed up and down and US servicemen swarmed the tarmac. I knew then that things must be bad. Outside the bird, the heat rising from the asphalt threatened to melt the soles of my boots even before I had the wheel chocks in place. A ground crew of American GIs approached, anxious to unload and assemble the chopper. One of them, bare-chested with his shirt tied around his waist, handed me a manifest.
I looked out over the shimmering taxiway. Rows and rows of dull aluminum funerary boxes gleamed in the unforgiving tropical sun. I recognized them from my flights out of Saigon six years ago, my first as Loadmaster. Maybe my insides did a little flip because I'd had no rest, or maybe because I hadn't carried a stiff in a few years. Still, I swallowed hard. I looked at the destination: Dover, Delaware. The ground crew loaded a fresh comfort pallet when I learned we'd have two passengers on the outbound flight. The first was a kid, right out of high school by the look of it, with bristle-black hair, and too-large jungle fatigues that were starched, clean, and showed the rank of Airman First Class.
I told him, "Welcome aboard," and went to help him through the crew door, but he jerked away, nearly hitting his head against the low entrance. I think he would have leapt back if there had been room. His scent hit me, strong and medicinal-Vicks VapoRub. Behind him a flight nurse, crisp and professional in step, dress, and gesture, also boarded without assistance. I regarded her evenly. I recognized her as one of a batch I had flown regularly from Clark in the Philippines to Da Nang and back again in my early days.
A steel-eyed, silver-haired lieutenant. She had been very specific-more than once-in pointing out how any numbskull high school dropout could do my job better. The name on her uniform read Pembry. She touched the kid on his back and guided him to the seats, but if she recognized me, she said nothing. We'll be wheels up in less than half an hour so make yourself comfortable.
The hold of a StarLifter is most like the inside of a boiler room, with all the heat, cooling, and pressure ducts exposed rather than hidden away like on an airliner. The coffins formed two rows down the length of the hold, leaving a center aisle clear. Stacked four high, there were one hundred and sixty of them. Yellow cargo nets held them in place.
Looking past them, we watched the sunlight disappear as the cargo hatch closed, leaving us in an awkward semi-darkness. His voice dripped with fearful outrage. I want a forward facing seat. When he didn't move to strap himself in, Pembry bent and did it for him. He gripped the handrails like the oh-shit bar on a roller coaster. Now only the twin red jump lights illuminated the long metal containers. When I returned, I brought him a pillow. The ID label on the kid's loose jacket read "Hernandez.
Once in the air, I brewed coffee on the electric stove in the comfort pallet. Nurse Pembry declined, but Hernandez took some. The plastic cup shook in his hands. All the while he looked past me, to the boxes lining the hold. Next the crew. No one bird was assigned the same crew, like in the old days. The MAC took great pride in having men be so interchangeable that a flight crew who had never met before could assemble at a flight line and fly any StarLifter to the ends of the Earth.
Each man knew my job, like I knew theirs, inside and out. I went to the cockpit and found everyone on stations. The second engineer sat closest to the cockpit door, hunched over instrumentation. I recognized his hangdog face and his Arkansas drawl, but I could not tell from where. I figured after seven years of flying StarLifters, I had flown with just about everybody at one time or another. He thanked me as I set the black coffee on his table. His flightsuit named him Hadley. The first engineer sat in the bitchseat, the one usually reserved for a "Black Hatter"-mission inspectors were the bane of all MAC aircrews.
He asked for two lumps and then stood and looked out the navigator's dome at the blue rushing past. He was the designated Aircraft Commander, but both he and the co-pilot were such typical flight jocks that they could have been the same person. They took their coffee with two creams each. Tell your passengers to expect some weather. Finally time to relax. As I went to have a horizontal moment in the crew berth, I saw Pembry snooping around the comfort pallet.
I pulled one from the storage cabinet between the cooking station and the latrine and gritted my teeth. I dodged around her and opened the fridge. She placed her hand on my shoulder, like she had on Hernandez, and it commanded my attention. I wished she'd stop being so direct. It made me a better Loadmaster.
Flashback to our earlier evac flights. The old look, hard and cool, returned instantly. He's a Medical Records Specialist, six months in the service, he's never been anywhere before, never saw a day of trauma in his life. Next thing he knows, he's in a South American jungle with a thousand dead bodies. They all drank poison. Some kind of cult, they said. Someone told me the parents killed their children first. I don't know what could make a person do that to their own family.
Hernandez said the smell was unimaginable. They had to spray the bodies with insecticide and defend them from hungry giant rats. He said they made him bayonet the bodies to release the pressure. He burned his uniform. Something nasty crept down the back of my throat as I tried not to visualize what she said. I struggled not to grimace. You better strap in. Hernandez's mouth gaped as he sprawled across his seat, looking for all the world like he'd lost a bar fight-bad.
Then I went to my bunk and fell asleep. Ask any Loadmaster: after so much time in the air, the roar of engines is something you ignore. You find you can sleep through just about anything.
Still, your mind tunes in and wakes up at the sound of anything unusual, like the flight from Yakota to Elmendorf when a jeep came loose and rolled into a crate of MREs. Chipped beef everywhere. You can bet the ground crew heard from me on that one. So it should not come as a shock that I started at the sound of a scream. On my feet, out of the bunk, past the comfort pallet before I could think.
Then I saw Pembry. She was out of her seat and in front of Hernandez, dodging his flailing arms, speaking calmly and below the engine noise. Not him, though. He stopped flailing. A shamed expression came over him. His eyes riveted mine. Her voice shook a little. You were asleep. You couldn't have heard anything. They didn't know. How could they have known they were drinking poison? Who would give their own child poison to drink? My son is three months. You have to be careful with them, patient with them.
My wife is really good at it, y'know? I hold them and I sing to them and-and if anyone else tried to hurt them… " He grabbed me on the arm that had held him. They still don't. There was a practical reason for checking out the noise. As a Loadmaster, I knew that an unusual sound meant trouble. I had heard a story about how an aircrew kept hearing the sound of a cat meowing from somewhere in the hold.
The Loadmaster couldn't find it, but figured it'd turn up when they off-loaded the cargo. Turns out the "meowing" was a weakened load brace that buckled when the wheels touched runway, freeing three tons of explosive ordnance and making the landing very interesting. Strange noises meant trouble, and I'd have been a fool not to look into it.
I checked all the buckles and netting as I went, stooping and listening, checking for signs of shifting, fraying straps, anything out of the ordinary. I went up one side and down the other, even checking the cargo doors. Everything was sound, my usual best work. I walked up the aisle to face them. Hernandez wept, head in his hands. Pembry rubbed his back with one hand as she sat next to him, like my mother had done to me.
I went back to my bunk to find it occupied by Hadley, the second engineer. I took the one below him but couldn't fall asleep right away. I tried to keep my mind far away from the reason that the coffins were in my bird in the first place. Cargo was the euphemism.
From blood plasma to high explosives to secret service limousines to gold bullion, you packed it and hauled it because it was your job, that was all, and anything that could be done to speed you on your way was important. Just cargo, I thought. But whole families that killed themselves… I was glad to get them the hell out of the jungle, back home to their families-but the medics who got there first, all those guys on the ground, even my crew, we were too late to do any more than that. I was interested in having kids in a vague, unsettled sort of way, and it pissed me off to hear about anyone harming them.
But these parents did it willingly, didn't they? New York Times folded into the bunk. Peace in the Middle East in our lifetimes, it read. Next to the article was a picture of President Carter and Anwar Sadat shaking hands. I was just about to drift off when I thought I heard Hernandez cry out again.
I dragged my ass up. Pembry stood with her hands clutched over her mouth. I thought Hernandez had hit her, so I went to her and peeled her hands away, looking for damage. There was none. Looking over her shoulder, I could see Hernandez riveted to his seat, eyes glued to the darkness like a reverse color television.
You ought to go check… ". The pitch of the plane shifted and she fell into me a little, and as I steadied myself by grabbing her elbow she collapsed against me. I met her gaze matter-of-factly. She looked away. Children singing?
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Were they both going crazy? I wracked my brain for some object, or some collection of objects, that when stuffed into a C StarLifter and flown thirty-nine thousand feet over the Caribbean, would make a sound like children playing. Hernandez shifted his position and we both brought our attention to bear on him. He smiled a defeated smile and said to us, "I told you. Isn't that what you wanted to do as a kid? I remembered my childhood like a jolt, endless summers and bike rides and skinned knees and coming home at dusk to my mother saying, "Look how dirty you are. I used the darkness to close off my sight, give me more to hear.
The turbulence had subsided by then, and I used my flashlight only to avoid tripping on the cargo netting. I listened for anything new or unusual. It wasn't one thing-it had to be a combination-noises like that just don't stop and start again. Fuel leak? The thought of a snake or some other jungle beast lurking inside those metal boxes heightened my whole state of being and brought back my dream. Near the cargo doors, I shut off my light and listened. Pressurized air. Four Pratt and Whitney turbofan engines.
Fracture rattles. Cargo straps flapping. And then, something. Something came in sharp after a moment, at first dull and sweeping, like noise from the back of a cave, but then pure and unbidden, like sounds to a surprised eavesdropper. I opened my eyes and flashed my light around the silver crates. I found them waiting, huddled with me, almost expectant. I ran past Hernandez and Pembry to the comfort pallet. I can't tell you what they saw in my face, but if it was anything like what I saw in the little mirror above the latrine sink, I would have been at once terrified and redeemed.
I looked from the mirror to the interphone. Any problem with the cargo should be reported immediately-procedure demanded it-but what could I tell the AC? I had an urge to drop it all, just eject the coffins and call it a day. If I told him there was a fire in the hold, we would drop below ten thousand feet so I could blow the bolts and send the whole load to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, no questions asked.
Children, I thought. Not monsters, not demons, just the sounds of children playing. Nothing that will get you. Nothing that can get you. I tossed off the shiver that ran through my body and decided to get some help. At the bunk, I found Hadley still asleep. A dog-eared copy of a paperback showing two women locked in a passionate embrace lay like a tent on his chest. I shook his arm and he sat up. Neither of us said anything for a moment. He rubbed his face with one hand and yawned.
Then he looked right at me and I watched his face arch into worry. His next action was to grab his portable oxygen. He recovered his game face in an instant. I groped for something. I need a hand, sir. His face screwed into something unpleasant and I thought I'd have words from him, but he let me lead the way aft.
Just his presence was enough to revive my doubt, my professionalism. My walk sharpened, my eyes widened, my stomach returned to its place in my gut. I found Pembry sitting next to Hernandez now, both together in a feigned indifference. Hadley gave them a disinterested look and followed me down the aisle between the coffins. His mouth opened and stayed there for a minute, then shut. The engines quieted and the sounds came, dripping over us like water vapor, the fog of sound around us.
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I didn't realise how cold I was until I noticed my hands shaking. He didn't say anything. The sound seemed to filter around us for a moment, at once close, then far away. He tried to follow the sound with his light. The engineer scratched his head, his face drawn, like he swallowed something foul and couldn't lose the aftertaste. His silence was conspiratorial.
As I rejoined him, I found him examining a particular row of coffins through the netting. I didn't respond. I'd done midair cargo searches before, but never like this, not even on bodies of servicemen. If everything Pembry said was true, I couldn't think of anything worse than opening one of these caskets. We both started at the next sound. Imagine a wet tennis ball.
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Now imagine the sound a wet tennis ball makes when it hits the court-a sort of dull THWAK-like a bird striking the fuselage. It sounded again, and this time I could hear it inside the hold. Then, after a buffet of turbulence, the thump sounded again. It came clearly from a coffin at Hadley's feet.
A noise from one coffin can't bring a plane down, his face said. There are no such things as ghosts. I knew at that moment he was going to help me. He didn't want to, but he was going to do it anyway. She stood by as I removed the cargo netting from the row of caskets while the engineer undid the individual straps around that one certain row.
Hernandez slept head bowed, the downers having finally taken effect. Tell me I imagined it, the look on her face said. Tell me and I'll believe you, and I'll go get some sleep. Her shoulders dropped and her face peeled into a smile too broad to be real. I thought I was going crazy. Finally, I was doing something.
As Loadmaster, I could put an end to this nonsense. So I did the work. I unstrapped the straps, climbed the other caskets, shoved the top one out of place, carried it, secured it, removed the next one, carried it, secured it, and again. The joy of easy repetition.
It wasn't until we got to the bottom one, the noisy one, that Hadley stopped. He stood there watching me as I pulled it out of place enough to examine it. His stance was level, but even so it spoke of revulsion, something that, among swaggering Air Force veterans and over beers, he could conceal. Not now, not to me. I did a cursory examination of the deck where it had sat, of the caskets next to it, and saw no damage or obvious flaws.
A noise sounded-a moist "thunk. We flinched in unison. The engineer's cool loathing was impossible to conceal. I suppressed a tremble. The engineer didn't disagree, but like me, his body was slow to move. He squatted down and, with one hand firmly planted on the casket lid, unlatched the clasps on his end. I undid mine, finding my fingers slick on the cold metal, and shaking a little as I pulled them away and braced my hand on the lid.
Our eyes met in one moment that held the last of our resolve. Together, we opened the casket. First, the smell: a mash of rotten fruit, antiseptic, and formaldehyde, wrapped in plastic with dung and sulfur. It stung our nostrils as it filled the hold. The overhead lights illuminated two shiny black body bags, slick with condensation and waste. I knew these would be the bodies of children, but it awed me, hurt me.
One bag lay unevenly concealing the other, and I understood at once that there was more than one child in it. My eyes skimmed the juice-soaked plastic, picking out the contour of an arm, the trace of a profile. A shape coiled near the bottom seam, away from the rest. It was the size of a baby. Then the plane shivered like a frightened pony and the top bag slid away to reveal a young girl, eight or nine at the most, half in and half out of the bag.
Wedged like a mad contortionist into the corner, her swollen belly, showing stab wounds from bayonets, had bloated again, and her twisted limbs were now as thick as tree limbs. The pigment-bearing skin had peeled away everywhere but her face, which was as pure and as innocent as any cherub in heaven. My hand fixed itself to the casket edge in painful whiteness, but I dared not remove it.
Something caught in my throat and I forced it back down. A lone fly, fat and glistening, crawled from inside the bag and flew lazily towards Hadley.
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He slowly rose to his feet and braced himself, as if against a body blow. He watched it rise and flit a clumsy path through the air. Then he broke the moment by stepping back, his hands flailing and hitting it-I heard the slap of his hand-and letting a nauseous sound escape his lips. When I stood up, my temples throbbed and my legs weakened. I held onto a nearby casket, my throat filled with something rancid. My arms went rubbery. After bracing myself, I lifted one leg and kicked the lid. It rang out like an artillery shot. Pressure pounded into my ears like during a rapid descent.
Hadley put his hands on his haunches and lowered his head, taking deep breaths through his mouth. I saw movement. Pembry stood next to the line of coffins, her face pulled up in sour disgust. Had to open it up though. Go sit down. I found that with a few more deep breaths, the smell dissipated enough to act.
He looked up from the floor and I saw his eyes as narrow slits. His hands were in fists and his broad torso stood fierce and straight. At the corner of his eyes, wetness glinted. He said nothing. It became cargo again as I fastened the latches. We strained to fit it back into place. In a matter of minutes, the other caskets were stowed, the exterior straps were in place, the cargo netting draped and secure.
Hadley waited for me to finish up, then walked forwards with me. Pembry sat in her seat, nose wriggled up, feigning sleep. Hernandez sat upright, eyelids half open. He gestured for me to come closer, bend down. I stood over him and said nothing. In my heart, I felt that same pang I did as a child, when summer was over.
When we landed in Dover, a funeral detail in full dress offloaded every coffin, affording full funeral rights to each person. I'm told as more bodies flew in, the formality was scrapped and only a solitary Air Force chaplain met the planes. By week's end I was back in Panama with a stomach full of turkey and cheap rum. Then it was off to the Marshall Islands, delivering supplies to the guided missile base there. In the Military Air Command, there is no shortage of cargo.
This story is dedicated to the families who lost loved ones at Jonestown, and to the servicemen and -women who brought them home. Outside the window, the blue water of the Atlantic danced in the sunlight of an early morning in October. They're short, quiet trains, the ones that roll through Connecticut just after dawn. I sipped bad tea, dozed off occasionally and awoke with a start. Over the last forty years, I've ridden the northbound train from New York to Boston hundreds of times. I've done it alone, with friends and lovers, going home for the holidays, setting out on vacations, on my way to funerals.
That morning, I was with one who was once in some ways my best friend and certainly my oldest. Though we had rarely met in decades, it seemed that a connection endured. Our mission was vital and we rode the train by default: a terrorist threat had closed traffic at Logan Airport in Boston the night before. I'd left messages canceling an appointment, letting the guy I was going out with know I'd be out of town briefly for a family crisis.
No need to say it was another, more fascinating, family disrupting my life, not mine. He was quiet for a while after hearing those lines. It was getting toward twenty-four hours since I'd slept. I must have dozed because suddenly I was in a dark place with two tiny slits of light high above.
I found hand- and foot-holds and crawled up the interior wall of a stone tower. As I got to the slits of light, a voice said, " New Haven. This stop New Haven. Chia Joo Ming was born in Singapore in the year In , he was invited to serve as the writerin-residence at the Nanyang Technological University. Last night, she was still talking about how she did not know how to handle such situations, and was not going to come.
Naturally, I stop walking, and with the departure gates separating us, Jolanda and I wave to one another. I do not know if this period of feelings between us has coaxed us unceasingly towards this predictable end. A journey of three generations has finally come to an end, and the anonymous journey to Nanyang has also reached its conclusion.
Cyril Wong is a poet and fictionist. He edited the fiction anthology, Here and Beyond, which was studied by secondary school students. I sang a song once as a child, then awoke an adult to sing the same song, although with an irony this time that was beautiful but sad.
Beautiful and sad. I hope to sing again after my coffin closes like a mouth, the melody uncoiling out from my afterlife, then entering the present like an echo — the ghost of an aria in the living air. Norton, Had I known earlier I would have visited your armour on display And examined if a little rust is still festering within the alloy of your sheath. Translated Extract Abang sees Singapore as the city that wrenched away his love.
Is it because his romance failed that he despises life here? Abang is just searching for other excuses to hate it here. What kind of man is he now? Malay or English? Or is he a half-and-half man? Half Malay, half English? How does he feel towards the British who colonised his people for hundreds of years? How does he feel about the British who once made fools out of his people? Even remnants of that stupidity are still stuck to this day.
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How does Abang feel about all this? This question plays in my head. Translated by Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar. Abang melihat Singapura sebagai kota yang merampas cintanya. Adakah kerana gagalnya cinta abang lantas abang membenci keadaan di sini? Abang hanya mencari-cari alasan lain untuk membenci keadaan di sini. Manusia apakah abang kini. Melayu atau Inggeris? Berkebudayaan apakah abang kini. Atau abang manusia separuh-separuh?
Separuh Melayu separuh Inggeris? Bagaimanakah sikap abang terhadap Inggeris yang telah menjajah anak bangsanya selama beratusratus tahun? Bagaimanakah sikap abang terhadap Inggeris yang pernah memperbodoh-bodohkan bangsanya. Bahkan sisa-sisa kebodohan itu masih lekat sehingga ke hari ini. Bagaimanakah sikap abang terhadap ini semua? Pertanyaan ini berlegar-legar dalam benakku sendiri. Ia tidak kuluahkan pada abang. Aku khuatir abang akan bertambah benci berada di sini lebih lama lagi.
His awards include the S. Write Award and the Cultural Medallion Stumbling today, I will crawl tomorrow You crawl today and will walk tomorrow. Yours, a baby walker For me, a cane. He was the recipient of the Cultural Medallion in and the S. Write Award in Translated Extract Returning a knife I've seen and heard it all in my years of experience as a shop assistant. Take something that happened recently: an elderly woman came up to the counter to return something she'd bought. You can't return it now.
Using it brings a repellent chill to my heart! But it's been used to kill many people. It's the latest design. Translated Extract Lots of people say you ought to learn to live with yourselves by talking to them often, but in fact most people do not say what they think. As far as I know, there are many people who spend lots of time in front of mirrors, but few who are willing to spend time or have frequent conversations with their selves, they actually wish they could cast them off, let alone talk to them.
He was the winner of the first Singapore Poetry Slam in , and served as a founding member of the spoken word collective the Party Action People. He served as a moderator for Singapore Poetry Writing Month in and He tweets and Instagrams at yishkabob. Publisher: Firstfruits Publishing, Extract What if you forgot to kill yourself in the middle of the story? Your red bib gets shredded in the washing machine.
The headmaster objects to your hair. They build you a body from the root of the lotus, all six of its arms bearing golden spears. It wages its own battles, of which you hear only gossip. Examine your stubble: Beyond the glass, the bathroom sink is a burning altar. Beyond, you tread the clouds shod with wheels of wind and fire, and you wait to kill your father, not become him. Original Extract Sang Nila Utama Dia telah mendahului zaman dengan salah menafsirkan bahawa bahteranya tidak akan tenggelam jika mahkota yang dipakainya dicampakkan ke lautan dia telah tersalah membuat andaian bahawa yang difikirnya hanyalah suatu ilusi yang bakal menyebabkan zuriatnya dalam mimpi berpanjangan untuk membuktikan bahawa mereka beraja bahawa mereka bersultan.
Her works have been translated into English, French and German. Kanagalatha is one of the founding directors of Poetry Festival Singapore. She had been always like this. She consoled herself by saying that even people born here were like that. She earned two thousand dollars a month. She could not save any money on that if she employed a helper. If she had studied the MSc that she studied in Tamil Nadu here in Singapore she could have earned two or three times that amount. She had to take care of her own expenses.
She also had to send money back for household expenses. How could she save anything after all this, much less go back home for vacation. The ten thousand dollars she had saved had been totally spent on her last vacation back home. It would have been OK if it was just the cost of the ticket. The relatives also expected her to give them money. Then for expenses back in India? Even if she employed a parttime helper she would have to pay at least seven dollars an hour. She would need to at least give fifty dollars as a gift.
She went into the bathroom thinking furiously of what other expenses she could cut to make up for the fifty dollars. Translated Extract You stand at the entrance of the underground water supply tunnel, and allow your eyes to adapt. It is two days later, and you have returned. The large drain has already returned to the form it had once taken in a dream. You climb down the thick, metal U-shaped ladder. The water that runs through the small drain in the middle of the large drain is so clear that you can see blue skies and white clouds in it. Occasionally, there are even small fish swimming through.
You open your eyes, and the world of the underground water supply tunnel gradually becomes bright. Faint rays illuminate the end of the tunnel. You take your first step, and no egrets fly out from within. You continue to make your way forward. The ground is still a little damp, and there are even remnants of mud and sand. After walking for about one fifth of the way, you arrive at a place where there used to be a bunch of deity-idols and deity-plaques scattered around. Now, Tua Pek Kong is gone. Guan Yu is gone. Translated by Eunice Lim Ying Ci.
He has published four poetry books and two short story collections in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and bagged important literary awards including the Young Artist Award and the Singapore Literature Prize in and English — Winner Simon Tay is a writer and public intellectual.
The poem Singapore Night Song is from his selection of poems, 5, which was highly commended by the Book Council in He is concurrently a professor teaching international law at the National University of Singapore and chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, a globally ranked think tank. How long have I slept? I want to ask my wife. Did I sleep walk? Talk or even cycle in my sleep? What will I do when I wake?
I want to be told. Or perhaps I should decide for myself now: what do I want to do? First, the alarm clock gets you up, or you are so conditioned that you wake before it goes off. Then it is one thing after another. One day, a week, the months, and a lifetime. There is never time to ask: what to do? What can you do? What do you want to do? When I was young, I would stay up late after everyone was asleep and try to think of such things.
When I was a teacher and then as a principal, I would stay awake, thinking about work, working. Sleep was a luxury. That I could go on and on. What an idea. What an ambition. A prolific poet, Johar started writing in the early 80s. He received the S. Write Award in , awarded by the Kingdom of Thailand.
He was the recipient of the Mastera Award in in recognition of his works, particularly his sufi-orientated poetry. Murugathasan, also known as Murugadiyan, has been writing traditional poetry for many years. He has authored more than 10 poetry books including Sangamam, which tells the life story of a man who comes to Singapore to eke out a living. He has also received many awards, including the Montblanc Award and the Thamizhavel Award. You can get the vegetables Of the South Indians If you go to Tekka You can see the faces Of many nationalities there And hear the sounds of sweet Tamil You can shop for gold jewellery And buy it when you have the money Have a pleasant time with your sweet girl Rest well until Aravanar comes.
Who knows what will happen in this world? Is the name of the magician Who gives good things to bad people And bad things to good, Go Translated by Sithuraj Ponraj. There is fish curry, and some sothi There is also coconut tossed with chilli And sweet thenkuzhal in the container That she can eat. Also drumsticks that will make your body strong Mixed with prawns Do not think of the four evil ones Until I come. Now, rest. He has always enjoyed the freedom of being alone, which entails the freedom to be selfish. He enjoys feeling lonely. At least, this is what he has been telling his friends and students.
Now he finally understands the taste of loneliness is not just a feeling of freedom. The diagnosis of his critical illness has made him experience the other face of loneliness. He wants to face his condition and death alone; there will be no one to help him to combat them, save himself. Death is the ultimate loneliness. He is an associate professor at the Department of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on street photography, creative writing and poetry.
He is the author of four volumes of poetry. It also explores the language of eroticism in the modern city life. In it, he experiments with bilingual English-Chinese poetry. He is also the reviews editor of Cha, an online literary journal based in Hong Kong. White pages peel from a notepad, smooth fingers, yours, rustling these leaves of my book — you know how much I love, how much time I spend on these pages.
These words emerge like the two of us, like future chapters of Hong Kong, its ferries at Victoria Harbour waiting to happen, or stanzas of Singapore with the Merlion poised, awaiting the tip of a future pen. Look how the spine stretch. The leaves are trembling in these hands, waiting for a city to happen. Ahmad Jaafar Munasip started writing since the mids. Translated Extract He did not know which bullet pierced through his heart.
And on that day, Jago fell, he who hated wars — wars that did not promise anything but destruction and the crimson of blood. That day, Jago left; the next day, the battle would begin anew, because his departure was not a solution to the war. Dia tidak tahu peluru yang mana satu yang menembusi jantungnya, apa yang dia tahu dia sempat mengucapkan nama Tuhan sebelum tubuhnya terkulai kaku tak berkutik. Dan hari itu telah gugur seorang Jago yang benci akan peperangan. Peperangan yang tidak menjanjikan apa-apa kecuali kehancuran dan kemerahan darah.
Hari ini, Jago telah pergi dan esok perang akan bermula lagi kerana pemergiannya bukan satu solusi untuk berhentinya perang. Some of his works have been translated into English, Chinese and Tamil. He won the Golden Point Award thrice for short stories and poetry in , and He has also won many Malay literary awards since Publisher: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Original Extract Tiada gunanya bercakap tentang kebenaran kalau hanya untuk disalahertikan menjadi tidak benar lagi.
Tiada gunanya bercakap tentang kemuliaan kalau hanya untuk diputarbelitkan menjadi tidak mulia lagi. Tiada gunanya bercakap tentang kezaliman kalau hanya untuk disalahtafsirkan hingga penzalim masih bebas bermaharajalela. Tiada gunanya bercakap tentang kejahatan kalau hanya untuk dibolak-balikkan hingga penjahat terus tersenyum merosakkan.
Tiada gunanya kalau masih terus membisu sebegini tanpa menolak ragu tanpa menolak keliru tanpa melakukan sesuatu penuh keikhlasan memadamkan kepura-puraan ini. Apa gunanya kalau tiada gunanya? Tiada gunanya Bercakap tentang kemanusiaan Kalau hanya untuk diperkotak-katikkan Hingga manusia bukan seperti manusia lagi.
Translated Extract It is of no use to talk about the truth only for it to be misconceived and no longer be true. It is of no use to talk about nobility only for it to be twisted and no longer be noble. It is of no use to talk about cruelty only for it to be misinterpreted for the tyrant to still reign supreme It is of no use to talk about humanity only for it to be made a mockery of until humans are no longer human.
It is of no use to talk about evil only to vacillate until the evildoer smiles as he harms. It is of no use if we continue to keep quiet like this without denying doubt without denying confusion without doing anything with full sincerity to erase this pretense What is the use if there is no use? His interest in Malay literature started as a hobby in A prolific writer, he has published two volumes of poetry, two collections of short stories, a collection of book reviews and a collection of radio drama scripts.
Jadi, macam mana hendak meletakkan karya itu sebagai karya yang baik dan ideal? Kita mesti membuat analisisnya terlebih dahulu. Dan tidak mungkin dia berniat untuk melacurkan karyanya sendiri untuk mencapai keidealan itu. Anam Sikani, who said that every genuine writer would always strive to produce an ideal piece of writing. Malay — Commendation An educator by profession, Yazid is a critic and literary analyst with expertise in the fields of Malay Literature and Theory in Literature.
He is actively involved in conducting creative writing workshops for the public and students. Segalanya boleh dilaksanakan dengan lancar. Sekiranya kelakuan pemimpin itu sendiri tidak betul sekalipun mengeluarkan tiga perintah dengan lima ganjaran rakyat tidak akan melaksanakannya juga. Cek Yah mendiamkan diri.
Tidak berkata apa-apa. Cuba menghuraikan makna itu. Kemudian tersenyum. Dia sudah memahaminya. Everything will be done smoothly. Cek Yah kept quiet. Did not say anything. Tried to parse the meaning. Then smiled. She finally understood. Vairavan came to Singapore in and became a citizen in He is passionate about Tamil literature and has been writing since He has published five books in Tamil: two poetry collections Kavithai Kuzhandaikal, Kaviyaranga Kavithaikal , two short story collections Punnakaikkum Iyandirangal, Nagara Marutha Mesai and one essay collection Yengengu Kaninum Idaivelikal.
He has written in Tamil Murasu, Tamil Nesan, and various online magazines. As time passes you become heavier, Making me weightless. Extracts from SLP Award-Winning Works winners from - In , separate categories of creative nonfiction and poetry were introduced.
Now SLP has twelve categories: Fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry across the four languages. A frequent contributor to literary journals, anthologies and the Chinese press, both in Singapore and abroad, he has won awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize and Golden Point Award. In , he published his poetry collection The Story of You and Me. Putting on pyjamas white shirt blue skirt dress shirt trousers leather shoes Putting on underwear house clothes Bermuda shorts slippers Button up, belt up, smoothen the creases Zip up, tidy up the collar.
The women paint their lips, ink their brows, put on makeup Dab perfume, fix earrings. The monks put on robes, the heathen knot their neckties. The trees put on sunshine as a cosmetic mask Put on the years like a net Slip off leaves and beauty. The men put on army uniforms and wear patriotism on their sleeves Slip off the four seasons. The apples are skinless, the fox is wagging its tail in The Little Prince, The snakes unroll outdated skins, the lizards shake off their timely tails.
Are angels fully-clothed or naked? Is the devil masked or baring his fangs? At wedding banquets of strangers, and politically-correct occasions, We would still be putting on sharp suits Jackets, masks, gold-rimmed glasses Wine glasses tightly clasped — Glasses wearing a certain sophisticated sheen. Translated by Yong Shu Hoong. Chinese Creative Nonfiction — Co-Winner Ho Nai Kiong has been in medical practice as a paediatric specialist for more than half a century. Born and educated in Singapore, he graduated from the University of Singapore in and received his Masters degree in Medicine Paediatrics in He has also served on many editorial boards, including the Singapore Medical Journal and the Chinese Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics.
He was a member of the Singapore Medical Council. He has numerous publications in medical journals and has written many books, including literary books in the Chinese language. He is featured in Living the Singapore Story Translated Extract The Days I Sought Refuge in Potong Pasir As night fell, the surroundings were left in pitch darkness, save for the chirping of insects in the vicinity. Our mother requested that we hide in a corner of the house to catch forty winks.
She warned us not to speak or cry when we heard sounds, or risk being caught and sold. After my second sister Ruo Shao and I had settled in, she held my third brother Nai Yan who was less than 2 years old in her arms, and breastfed him. She also instructed the men who sought refuge with us to hide shoes worn by women and children and replace them with big rafts worn by men on the steps.
She meant well. Translated by Tay Meng How. She has published in Singapore, China and other places, and her published works range from short critiques and essays to novels and travelogues. Her works have also been the focus of many research students in universities. Translated Extract In spring, I see beauty when colourful butterflies chase one another playfully in the boundless canola fields of Scotland. In summer, when the pearlescent sheep graze joyfully in the meadows of Iceland, I also see beauty.
In autumn, when the luscious reds and bright golden browns of trees inspire a soundless symphony in Korea, I see beauty yet again.
In winter, when the silent snow transforms the suburbs of England into a shimmering world of glass, beauty continues to be what I see. Spring, summer, autumn, winter — the four seasons and their gorgeous sights often touch my heart immensely. However, what illuminates my thoughts is not the scenery, but the people. On my journeys, the people I meet resemble shining lights. More often than not, they make the world that flows from my pen more bountiful, and increase the riches of both heart and soul.
His eyelids were sunken below his cheekbones, while his chin tilted downwards. Wearing a suit over his frail frame, he looked just like a scarecrow in the fields held up by just a few bamboo poles. The sight was hilarious yet heart-wrenching. His wife dared not go against his wishes. She placed his suit over his body and noticed that his pants remained loose even after his belt and waistband were tightened. She was not pleased and placed a huge stack of incense paper around his waist before re-tightening his pants. Publisher: Ethos Books, Extract Dragonflies As if there should be only one prescribed response for a filial grandson: A raging sadness enough to rattle the petals off the wreaths.
Not ambling after the departing cortege on steady feet. Queenstown, 3. Joshua Ip is the author of four volumes of poetry from Math Paper Press, the latest being footnotes on Falling His latest editorial work is a migrant-Singaporean anthology with local writers responding to works by migrant workers, Call and Response He is working on his fourth musical about the life of William Farquhar. For more information, go to www. Publisher: Math Paper Press, Extract homebuilding to build a proper mansion, fit for kin: high ceilings, first, to cater space for God; high windows, too, to let him out and in, or flit above our heads, a rafter thought.
Josephine Chia, a year-old Peranakan, writes both fiction and nonfiction, and is internationally published. Her writing focuses on her Peranakan culture and heritage, as well as kampung life and the history of Singapore. She is an avid reader and loves to tell stories. Its sequel and her tenth book, Goodbye My Kampong, Potong Pasir to , has just been published at the end of She has won other literary prizes and awards in UK. Her last novel, When A Flower Dies, was launched in Josephine taught Creative Writing freelance to adults in England until her return to Singapore permanently in Even before her final return to Singapore, the Ministry of Education had engaged her to run workshops at the Creative Arts Programme CAP , where she also serves as a mentor.
Parvathi — Many uneducated girls in the kampong were still subjected to arranged marriages. As soon as they became teenagers, their fates were sealed. That was why I was so grateful that my mother had fought for me to attend school. Otherwise my fate would have been like theirs — although my father still threatened to marry me off as soon as I was eligible. But like Parvathi, I had planned to run away if my father forced me to marry.
Except that I did not want to hurt my precious mother. She, like Parvathi did not go to school. Siong Guan has co-authored with Joanne H. After graduation, Joanne worked at PSA International, where she worked closely with senior management on strategic projects, and honed her skills in communications, branding, events management, and collateral design. She graduated among the top five of her class and was awarded the Portcullis Wealth Management Prize. Joanne worked at Goldman Sachs and UBS, before joining the Singapore Economic Development Board, where she worked with leading consumer companies, and helmed the logo design and collateral development for a national visual arts project.
This book is part biography, part commentary, and part exposition. It is a book born out of a desire to share ideas derived from my thoughts and practices, in the belief that the fullest test of leadership lies in being able to raise the next generation of leaders who live the values of the founding fathers, and who exercise continual rethinking in changing circumstances to achieve sustained success. If you should learn just one thing that enhances your life, this book will have achieved its purpose. May you have the desire to lead, the humility to learn, the fortitude to strive, and the joy of being able to help and encourage another life within your sphere of influence.
This book is for anyone who wants to positively influence others around them. You could be a CEO of a multi-national corporation, a stay-at-home mother, an emergency room nurse, or a secondary school student. The fact is that your life counts and you have the potential to be a thought leader and influencer in your own right. I believe that at the heart of every human being is a desire for meaning and purpose in life.
Different people seek different ways to discover that purpose, but many people testify that nothing beats contributing to the lives of other human beings. I will share with you the best ideas I have come across and the convictions I have espoused over the course of my career. Please be assured that these are not. What I hope is that you will be able to glean insights and principles from these pages that will give you the courage to think independently, to seek to develop capabilities unique to yourself, and to aspire to be number one in the way you think and act, driven always to be in time for the future.
In Singapore, she has initiated mentorship programmes and workshops for emerging writers and senior citizens alike, and developed interdisciplinary projects for the National Library, the Asian Film Archive, and HBO Asia. She is represented by the Wylie Agency. Each ride, each oscillation takes half an hour, and I look at her small, thin frame, her bony shoulders, her prominent cheekbones, and I wonder if there is enough breath inside her to hyperventilate for half an hour and come out intact.
She breathes through me, breathes me in, breathes me out, and her sharp intakes of breath slow gradually. When she catches her breath, she says lightly: The last time I was kissed for that long, I was eighteen, under a banyan tree. Bad joke, I say, Do you need a doctor? We stand by the glass windows of the capsule and look out at the bay. Do you know that right under Marina Bay is a cesspool? If you fall in, you need a tetanus jab. Tanpa falsafah yang jelas ini maka penyair akan lebur kewujudannya ditelan masa. Jika musibah ini berlaku maka kewujudan penyair itu akan tidak punya apaapa makna lagi.
Berapa ramaikah penyair kita yang telah menampakkan falsafah kemanusiaannya? Berapa yang punya falsafah yang jelas berhadapan dengan massa? Berapa ramai yang benarbenar seniman dan bukan hanya menulis puisi sahaja? Jawapannya biarlah kita fikirkan bersama. How many of our poets have shown their philosophy on humanity? How many have clear philosophy with respect to the masses? How many are true artists and not just people who write poetry? Let us ponder the answers together. Our poets should have a clear philosophy with respect to the masses.
If this disaster strikes then the existence of the poet will no longer have any significance. Walaupun mengeluarkan air mata darah, keputusan yang dah keluar adalah muktamad. Tak ada cara untuk mengubahnya. Yang Berjaya akan terbang tinggi melayang-layang di angkasa. Mengilai-ngilai dengan kegembiraan macam orang yang menang loteri, macam monyet yang mendapat pisang. Dirinya akan dihormati dan dicontohi. Tentu kedudukannya dalam masyarakat lebih tinggi dan lebih berstatus. Yang gagal, akan bersedih bagai dirasakan bumi sedang menelannya tanpa belas ihsan.
Yang gagal juga akan dihujani dengan kata-kata nasihat kata-kata perangsang sebagai pembakar semangat untuk cuba lagi pada tahun hadapan. Translated Extract Meritocracy: For those without ambition The results will still be known. Even if tears of blood are shed, the results that will be announced are final.
There is no way to change them. The Victor will soar high up into space. Howling with joy like a person winning the lottery, like monkeys finding bananas. The Victor will be honoured and emulated. For sure, his position in society is now elevated and of a higher status. The ones who failed will be miserable, as if the earth is swallowing them without mercy. The ones who failed will be showered with words of advice, words of encouragement, to keep the spirit burning and try again next year.
Mathangi, who writes classical and modern poetry as well as speculative and literary fiction, has a postgraduate degree in literature. Her works have been published in notable literary magazines. One of her poems was included in a bilingual anthology of contemporary global Tamil poetry, published by Tamil Literary Garden, Canada. One of her poems appeared in 50 on 50, an anthology released by the National Arts Council to commemorate 50 years of self-governance in Singapore. One of her poems has been included by the Ministry of Education in their junior college curriculum She has authored two poetry collections and three short story collections.
I yearn to sever this never So tightly bound to my core. I flounder on the right side of the house. May hunger and thirst leave me. Kotti Thirumuruganandam was born in India. He has been teaching Tamil at Catholic Junior College since