Pure and Faultless Elation Emerging from Hiding

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« Lim Lee Ching’s poems resemble no other work coming from Singapore today, yet these are the poems for which Singapore has quietly yearned. In some ways, the work in this new collection is a throwback to a tradition that stretches from the early twentieth century, its revolutions of the word, to the touchingly opaque worlds of the turn of the millennium. It is haunted not only by Joyce, Loy, and Stevens, but also by Ashbery and Melnick. It suggests an albeit estranged or implicit continuation of this magisterial tradition, in the space, “the deep space between reading and seeing” perhaps, where idioms and languages meet, embrace, or fight it out. The result is revelatory of an English anchored transiently in idioms that range across diverse poetic forms, local dialects, and global drifts, and yet it is one that endures. Locked in these tensions, the work is like a dance whose steps follow the fleeting patterns of disabused expectation. Lim’s poems manifest a principle known instinctively to lasting poets of any age: if it sounds right, then deform it, distort it, subvert it, at any rate do anything but leave it as it is. From a discipline of association an enduring idiom is formed, suggesting permanence in a world terrified by entropy and loss. In poems like “Bookmarks” and “Shallowbreath” Lim’s work begins to stretch out into the longer forms that evidently suit his voice. The rigour demonstrated in these poems intimates an abiding poetic significance. Britta Noresten’s drawings, published here alongside Lim’s poems, add rhythms and textures of their own to the page and resonate with the poems in surprise. These exquisite studies in contemporary realism at once hold and embellish moments of passage and yet each time the lines and shades take flight on the page. These illustrations place a kind of magnifying glass over parts of an emerging world that is distributed equally to both drawing and writing. »            

— John W.P. Phillips

 

Pure and Faultless Elation Emerging from Hiding

poems by Lim Lee Ching
illustrated by Britta Noresten
poems sequenced by Mary Ann Lim
layout by Yanyun Chen
foreword by Neil Murphy
afterword by Jeremy Fernando