FEATURING JERROLD YAM
Back when I could stare without bitterness,
my brain easy enough
for toying a newfangled scene
or surprise, I would hop on a train to
watch meadows swim by,
mud slathered on fields
like toffee, my reflection in the glass
lighted by the novelty of the countryside.
For a moment there is no shame
in becoming my own best companion,
no remorse or loneliness
pushing me to disentangle words
from strangers. When I wake,
there would be no need for a future.
Give me unsettled coffee
by the window. Give me suitcases
muffling the snare of permanence
with leather rinds, and I
can almost believe the life
hurrying before me
is not my own.
INTRUDER IS A set of poems inspired by the author's travels from Asia to European countries, such as Iceland, to others like Barcelona, Lisbon and Istanbul. His experiences offered the raw ingredients in establishing themes introduced in his previous works, Chasing Curtained Suns and Scattered Vertebrae, exploring the concepts of family, displacement, intimacy, impermanence and rootedness. In his own words, "Home, like love, may be a fiction that we must resist claiming for our own. The question is can we - and should we - be more than intruders?"
An author of three poetry collections, Jerrold Yam was also the youngest Singaporean nominated for the Pushcart Prize, a most honourable literary project in America, at the age of twenty.
When asked of his usual thought process during the creation of a new poetry, he emphasised that poetry is never thought, but felt instead. "Poetry is always felt first, then felt again and again until that feeling is painstakingly distilled into language."
His idea of identity is that it is but a collection of unnecessary labels composed from one's inclination for order and categorisation. With regards to identifying himself with his works, he finds that authorial identification is restricted to the writing process and would vanish the moment the work is published. Having said so, his notion holds that work, once published, would belong to the public, being receptive to admiration, critique and graffiti.
Poetry is revelatory and relentless, with a form of kindness that one could only show oneself and not anticipate anything in return.
Having a variety of writing styles across his collection of works due to the intrigue of experimentation, Jerrold nevertheless attempts to keep certain factors in consistency. His idea of a good poem includes an equilibrium between plain-speaking and imagery line breaks, with a complementary rather than an inconsequential composition, along with an ending that induces the reader to revise the entire poem once more.
"Poetry is conceivably one of the most vibrant literary manifestations in Singapore, in terms of history, volume and other markers by which we artificially benchmark ourselves. More and more young poets are lending their voices to the national literary dialogue, which is encouraging." said Jerrold, in answer to his thoughts on how susceptible the locals are towards poetry. "Art is definitely not another trend rubber-stamped by Western accolades. Instead, poetry is an intimate matter of personal fortitude, experimentation, perception, appreciation and vulnerability."
In addition to a couple of impending cross-media artistic projects and commissions, poetry lovers would be enthused to know that there would be an upcoming launch of several anthologies featuring his poems this year.
On an ending note, what would you say to all aspiring poets and dream chasers out there?
Poetry is aspiration itself, and recognition does nothing to enhance the purity of a vision. In that sense, all poets are and will always be aspiring. The chase is as important as, if not more important than, the dream. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the chase often alters, redirects and defines the dream itself. Dreams are a luxury, not an entitlement. Flying is a myth. Dreams are chased with two feet firmly on the ground.