Boey Kim Cheng
Selected by The Straits Times as one of the Best Books of 2012
In poems that shuttle between Singapore and Australia, award-winning poet Boey Kim Cheng seeks to establish a new senseof self and home on the shifting ground between memory and imagination. A noodle-maker in Melbourne triggers connective threads to the poet’s birthplace. A train crossing over the Johor-Singapore Causeway evokes the dislocating experience of interstitial existence. After six long years, one of Singapore’s greatest modern voices returns with a work of profound insight and erudition.
Clear Brightness has since been selected as an ‘A’-Level literature text in Singapore.
“Boey Kim Cheng perseveres in drawing poignant bridges between a vanishing past and that ever-indifferent future. Each poem marks a destination that has disappeared, or is disappearing, marked by a sense of both public and intensely personal loss, accumulating in what the poet has himself described as a growing ‘list of the disappeared’—full of heartfelt inventory, difficult reconciliations and a thoughtful compassion. Clear Brightness is Boey’s best collection yet.”
—Cyril Wong, author of The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza and Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories
“The poems in Clear Brightness continue the story of the writer’s life in Australia while harking back to the rhythms of his birthplace. The result is verses juxtaposing contrasts such as the Qing Ming grave-cleaning ritual with the menace of a bush fire. Haunting and mesmerising.”
—Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times
“There is a mellowness to the writing, a new sensuality to sense memories invoked with vivid clarity, and, dare I say it, even clear notes of happiness. The deft interplay of images, drawn from tapestry and music, are a swoonsome delight to read.”
—Ong Sor Fern, The Sunday Times
“No other writer from Singapore influences the country’s current batch of poets more than Australia’s new citizen Boey Kim Cheng.”
—Gwee Li Sui, author and illustrator of Myth of the Stone
“Boey Kim Cheng’s poems gather as they go powerful rhythmical force precisely by being rooted in the specifics of experience and feeling. They are deeply moving for their grand (and sometimes sorrow-shot) amplitude, as they take in the plurality of this breathtaking world.”
—Judith Beveridge, winner of the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal
“The best post-1965 English-language poet in the republic today.”
—Shirley Geok-lin Lim, author of Among the White Moon Faces
“There is no denying the power of his poetry, a poetry so often, one feels, energised by its need to break through.”
—Anne Lee Tzu Pheng, Cultural Medallion recipient for Literature
“Boey’s words freeze moments across cities, and landscapes of the mind wedged in different slices of time. The longtime reader will find that the sojourning impulse through his earlier poems now settle into a less restless beat, and the anxious search for home gives way to an acceptance of multiple ones.”
—Wei Fen Lee, co-editor of Ceriph and Coast
About the Poet:
Boey Kim Cheng is an award-winning poet who was born in Singapore and migrated to Australia in 1997. His books include four collections of poetry—Somewhere-Bound (1989), Another Place (1992), Days of No Name (1996) and After the Fire (2006)—and a travel memoir, Between Stations (2009). He is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Size: 148 x 210mm
Published: November 2012