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.