Tse Hao Guang 謝皓光 is a Singaporean poet and editor, assembled with parts from Hong Kong and Malaysia. His first full-length poetry collection, Deeds of Light, was shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize. He co-edits the cross-genre, collaborative journal OF ZOOS, and UnFree Verse (2017), the anthology of Singapore poetry in received and nonce forms. He serves as essays editor of online educational/critical resource poetry.sg, and is a 2016 fellow of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.

The Postcolonial Sonnet

Problems and Strategies

Singapore poetry in English tends to be read as a lens through which the nation is made and remade. While not unfruitful, such approaches tend to focus on history as a series of events happening over time, ignoring the fact that poetic form, like other categories of art, also has histories worth unpacking. Concomitant with this is the fact that such poetry is overwhelmingly written in free verse, more a de-facto stance than a reaction against form.

In my examination of two contemporary poets, Joshua Ip and Koh Jee Leong, I focus on their contextually unusual commitment to metrical forms: both their debuts are collections of sonnets. I investigate what it is they say through form, and how they are negotiating multiple, perhaps false dichotomies—East/West, state/self, high art/pop culture, reader/speaker—and invoking form while subverting content enfleshes that balancing act.