Here’s the funny thing about poetry. I hated it in school, avoided it like the plague, and glowered at it from the other side of the room even while I took classes analysing poetry in college. Lost in the heavy words of the likes of Hughes and Heaney I was convinced I didn’t understand poetry and would never come to appreciate it.
It’s a strange thing. Sometimes the things that you never thought you would love come to find a way into your heart.
On Friday evening my sensitive lungs and I waded through the haze to attend BooksActually’s launch + reading of Tania de Rozario’s first poetry collection, Tender Delirium. It was one of the bounty of poetry collections being launched that day. What a delight. BooksActually was keeping its doors open until the dawn as it marked a global 24 Hour Bookshop event, sponsored by Red Bull, which gives it something in common with Sebastian Vettel. When it gets this busy, its narrow aisles develop clots, and you have to fight your way through human thromboses just to get anywhere. A great deal of fun.
I’ll be brief about the event itself. It was co-hosted by Tania and her mentor Cyril Wong. The reading was lovely and tinged with humour throughout. Tania said there was not a single happy poem in the book (and having read it, it’s true) – but you wouldn’t know it from the energy and joy that filled the room.
As a bonus, the Q&A session turned into a lively discussion of the arts, literature and censorship in Singapore, particularly with respect to queer literature. There’s a lot of it published here, but you’ll never see it get into the mainstream, or discussed in schools.
I had a good time. Good conversations, good books, which I’ve spent the past few days reading over and over. I picked up several other poetry books that day, but Tania’s really resonates with me, with its tales of loss and longing. If you can’t make it to the bookstore itself, BooksActually has a BigCartel webstore! And plenty of other lovely books on offer as well.
Right. Selected photos of the event under the cut, featuring cats, people, and a Shameless Selfie.