Monday, September 8, 2014

Edwin Thumboo

Edwin Thumboo is a pioneer of English language poetry in Singapore. His poetry books include: Rib of Earth (1956) Gods Can Die (1977) and A Third Map (1993). He has edited many anthologies, promoting the poetry of Singapore and Malaysia. From 1970 to 1993 he taught at the National University of Singapore, heading the Department of English Language and Literature for 16 years.

Another Singapore poet, Aaron Lee, calls Thumboo, "our unofficial poet laureate"—a title others have used as well due to the nationalism in his writing. W.B. Yeats is a significant influence on Thumboo's poetry, such as in his well-known poem "Ulysses by the Merlion", concerning Singapore's break from colonialism, which he sees as mirroring Ireland's nationalistic struggles.

The Poetry Reader

Bring life and living, untidiness and order,
Carbuncles and pearls, dark half-closed doors,
To image, metaphor; lingual calm; a grammar’s
Entity, whose first act lifts the id into super self.

Let burnished, blazing power renew dim faces;
Fire those memories that keep you standing. Nerves
Power roots tingling sap, as discourse smoothes
Its rough moments into damask; filigree syllables.

You know, afresh, why in the very beginning there
Was the Word. So move in the flow, the curving tide,
The drift and wash. So primed for another verbal icon,
While by the waters of the Seine, more poems gather.

--------------I read them; they read me.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.