Joelyn's Book Bites

Book Bites: Bitter Punch

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I’ll admit it – I’m not much of a poetry person.

However, I have been a fan of Guan Liang’s poetry since he was published in CERIPH. After I got his first book, “Transparent Strangers”, we started exchanging work and critiques until he told me his second book, “Bitter Punch” was being published by Ethos Books and needed me to help him write his blurb.

Fast forward a year or so later, and the book is finally launched.

Like listening to the embodiment of their muses
Like listening to the embodiment of their muses

Guan Liang invited me to his launch, which was held at Lepark, a rooftop performance spot which has now evolved into a café with the best Milo soft-serve Sundae ever. (No, really, the Tiger and I enjoyed every last bite of it and were lamenting at how we will probably never know when it’ll come back again because it was ‘Soft Serve of the Day’)

They were still mostly setting up when the both of us arrived, and soon after getting my copy, it all started.

Reciting the poignant story of "Coolie", one of the pieces which stood out for me.
Reciting the poignant story of “Coolie”, one of the pieces which stood out for me.

I commend Ethos on having Guan Liang read his poetry beside Benjamin Chow’s performance poetry. It was refreshing to have that dynamic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Tiger particularly enjoyed Benjamin’s performance of “Majulah”, which I felt hit a bit too close to home too.

Guan Liang’s poetry reading has always been one of the better ones I’ve experienced (not to say that I’ve gone to a whole lot of poetry readings, but still), and I always loved the stories he told behind his poems – whether through the verses he writes, or through the anecdotes he shares during these events.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway I got from this whole launch was what he mentioned about us as writers, and how as writers in a society heavy on resignation, we have an avenue to use our words as a form of expression, agreement, acceptance, or defiance.

And those words, in themselves, was poetry to my ears.

Bitter Punch was written by Loh Guan Liang and published by Ethos Books. To find out more about the book or to get it, click here.

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