Poetry Recital @ NJC Poetry Night 2017

So I just got back from the NJC (National Junior College) Poetry Night 2017 where I, as an alumnus (together with 2 other alumni from the NUS Literary Society), shared some of my writing with my juniors.

In particular, the 2 individual poems I chose to recite were:

My Pen
https://ironrustedhearts.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/my-pen/#more-437
(because I feel that it serves really well as my sort of introductory poem while at the same time being relatable to young Singaporean writers, and)

Shipwrecked
https://ironrustedhearts.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/shipwrecked/#more-81
(I felt that this piece was really suitable for the theme of the night which was ‘Acceptance’, as what I tried to do with this poem was to portray acceptance as a myth: something you can convince yourself of doing without truly accepting what you are unhappy with)

The 3 of us alumni also did a combined sonnet-based collaborative poem titled The Outsiders. My part goes like this:

His name is mine in inverted commas.
Scarlet tale untold in my bluebell dreams.
An old tongue that I understand proper
but threatens to shatter me; all my seams.

Everyday from within he scrapes with nails
cultivated upon organic sin.
Though I struggle it is my fate to fail.
He stands out there, looking on, looking in.

Three notable local writers were also at the event: Alvin Pang, Cyril Wong, Jennifer Anne Champion and it was a delight to hear them recite their poetry live. Personally, I was very nervous as it was my first time reciting my own poetry in any sort of public setting but judging from the reactions of the students, I think (and hope) that I managed to pull it off adequately well. Poetry is really an oral affair, and I think I should try to organize some events in NUS which will give people opportunities to share their works on an open stage. Maybe I should record some recitals for Youtube as well.

Beyond poetry, it was quite liberating to return to NJC after so many years of absence and meet some familiar faces (though ‘one’ would be more accurate). I graduated in 2012 and have never returned since. For the longest time, the school has represented several negative connotations in my mind (more due to subjective experiences rather than the school itself) so I thought it would be a good time to head back, just stand at the top of the stairs, stare out at the track and lay some old ghosts to rest. And I’m glad I did. (Kind of wanted to run a lap for remembrance but didn’t manage to in the end!)

What about you? Do you have a place in your memory that makes you hurt whenever you think about it? And if you do, have you ever tried returning to that place in order to end the pain? Or did the pain just fade away eventually? If you have an interesting story to tell, do share it in the comments section below. I’d love to read it!

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