On the Back of a Motorbike

I’m excited to announce that a new Southeast Asian anthology entitled On the Back of a Motorbike will be out of the printing press soon. As you might have guessed already, all the stories and poems in the book are¬†supposed to contain the phrase ‘on the back of a motorbike’.

My poem The Vendors is featured in the book. ūüėÄ ¬†The Vendors is about my fond childhood memories¬†of¬†vendors selling food, such as¬†the bread man, ice cream man, etc. going from residential area to residential area.¬†If you are wondering – yes, it certainly has that phrase in it. ūüėČ

The cover looks like this:

Cover.jpg
You know, I’ve seen quite a number of people sporting T-shirts with the slogan ‘Same Same But Different’ over the years. ūüėČ

 

On the Back of a Motorbike is in the process of printing, and the electronic version will be uploaded in a few days’ time. I’ll share the link when it is available. So, keep an eye on this page for updates. ¬†ūüôā

The book is published by Literary Concept, which is helmed by Kris Williamson. Click here to visit their Facebook page.

 

 

 

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Light and Dark

For July 2016 week 3 of¬†#‚ÄéMYWritersPoetryPrompt‚Ĩ, there were two word prompts, ‘light’ and ‘dark’. I wrote about the co-existence of light and dark, good and evil. This poem is not about the triumph of good over evil, but about how their co-existence makes each appear as they are perceived in the present day – light being the good, and dark being the evil.

IMG_4576a

 

Light and Dark

What is light without dark?
What is dark without light?

The light makes the dark
Look dim and dastardly

The dark makes the light
Look bright and beautiful

One without the other
Will lose its power and influence

They are pitted against each other
But each needs the other to thrive

An odd co-existence through the ages
But persists still due to necessity

Khor Hui Min
23 June 2016

 

 

#atozchallenge: Up, up and away! If Walls Could Talk 1st Anniversary

The average person thinks that poetry is boring, and they also think that only poets think that poetry is interesting. I think this is no longer true in the modern age.

Perhaps in the past, poetry was the domain of the educated, literate people, who were few in the old days. With the improvements in education and the increase in literacy rates worldwide over the past few decades, poetry and prose have become much more accessible to the regular joe.

Then, there are poetry movements that bring poetry to the young, and make it accessible and approachable. Now, there are even poetry open mics (one might compare them¬†to¬†comedy open mic style) and poetry slams. Yes, everything is possible now. ūüėČ

If you are curious and want to know more, you can check out If Walls Could Talk РPoetry Open Mic, which just celebrated their first anniversary last week. Incidentally, they are organising their first Poetry Slam on 25 June 2016, from 6pm to 8pm, at BlackBox, Publika. So, check out their Facebook page to find out more!

 

Retro microphone on stage
Retro microphone on stage in restaurant. Blurred background. Source: http://7-themes.com/6905520-retro-microphone.html

 

I wrote a poem in conjunction with the first anniversary of If Walls Could Talk. Hope you like it. ūüėÄ

If Walls Could Talk

If walls could talk
They would sing songs
Of joy and rejoicing
They would cry songs
Of sadness and pain

If walls could talk
They would tell tales
Of people squished against walls
And squashed against each other
Huddled in groups on the floor

If walls could talk
They would laugh at the time
The people couldn’t get
Through the door anymore
Snaking all the way down the stairs

If walls could talk
They would whisper about the time
The man in white came
With long white beard
And talented guitarist son

If walls could talk
They would wonder aloud
At all the poets and poet-wannabes
And all the poetry lovers
Who would come all the way

If walls could talk
They would talk about
All the different types of poets
Quiet and loud; serious and funny
Reserved and boisterous

If walls could talk
They would talk about the night
Gaslight Café was the most
Happening place
In Damansara Heights

Khor Hui Min
10 June 2016

Read another article I wrote about the If Walls Could Talk First Anniversary:
Thursday poetry reading with A. Samad Said

 

 

 

 

Guiding light

It has been quite some time since I wrote a haiku. ūüôā

Here’s my haiku for RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #100 Top&Light. Congratulations to RonovanWrites for the 100th haiku challenge! Yay! ūüėÄ

haiku-challenge-image

Guiding light

The lighthouse shines bright
On top of cliff; on land’s edge
Light to guide one home

Khor Hui Min
8 June 2016

 

 

#atozchallenge: Edgar Allan Poe

E for Edgar Allan Poe

Today, I would like to share a poem by the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). An American writer, editor, and literary critic, he was most well known for his poetry and short stories, especially stories of mystery and the macabre. He has been credited as the inventor of the detective fiction genre and also regarded as a contributor to the emergence of science fiction (Stableford, 2003). He was also deemed as the first well-known American who tried to earn a living through writing alone, leading to a difficult career and financially difficult life (Meyers, 1992).

To find out more about Edgar Allan Poe, you can read his brief biography at Poestories.com

Dream-Land

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1844)

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE — out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the dews that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters — lone and dead, —
Their still waters — still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead, —
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily, —
By the mountains — near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever, —
By the grey woods, — by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp, —
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls, —
By each spot the most unholy —
In each nook most melancholy, —
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past —
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by —
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth — and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
‘Tis a peaceful, soothing region —
For the spirit that walks in shadow
‘Tis — oh ’tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not — dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

 

References

  • Stableford, Brian (2003). “Science fiction before the genre”. In James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.¬†15‚Äď31. ISBN¬†978-0-521-01657-5.
  • Meyers, Jeffrey (1992). Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy (Paperback ed.). New York: Cooper Square Press. ISBN¬†978-0-8154-1038-6.

#atozchallenge: AZALEA

Today is the first day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge, and for 2016, I have decided to combine the A to Z Challenge with National Poetry Month.
So, every day, I will put up a post that has a poem in it. ūüôā

A for AZALEA

When I went to Taiwan in the spring of 2015, I loved the flowers –¬†gardens, parks, and sometimes shrubbery planted along¬†the streets would be full of blooms.¬†Cherry blossoms can be found in parks and the mountainous countryside. While azaleas can be found growing wild together with these cherry blossoms¬†wherever they appear, they are also grown as shrubs in the cities, in the gardens of houses and parks as part of the landscaping. They are really beautiful in full bloom, where it is common to see shrubs entirely¬†covered with bright pink or red blooms. I also liked the pure white blooms.

Yangmingshan National Park

The most memorable spring flower place where I saw lots of cherry blossoms and azaleas was at the Yangmingshan National Park of Taipei. The park can be reached via public bus Red5 from the Jiantian MRT station. That was the bus I got on.

The Yangmingshan Flower Festival is divided into three phases:

  • The first stage happens¬†between January and February, when the¬†Formosan cherry blooms along the mountain trails of Yangmingshan Park.
  • The second stage begins from the Chinese New Year till early March, ¬†when¬†the Showa cherry and Japanese flowering cherry bloom. The peony and azalea are also two main attractions during the flower season.
  • The third stage of the flower season is from mid till late April, during which the sage grass, Formosan cherry and calla lily take center stage.

The flowers bloom continuously throughout the January till April period.

To find out¬†more about the cherry blossoms of Taiwan, you can read the article I wrote¬†entitled ‘C is for Cherry Blossoms‘, which I wrote for the Blogging A to Z Challenge last year (2015).

What is the difference between an azalea and a rhododendron?

According to the Oxford Dictionary:

An azalea is a deciduous flowering shrub with clusters of brightly coloured, sometimes fragrant flowers. Azaleas are typically smaller than other rhododendrons and there are numerous cultivars.

All Azaleas are actually Rhododendrons, but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. Rhododendron is a genus (a group of plants with shared characteristics) and Azaleas are a group within that genus, rather than forming a genus of their own. They can be differentiated using these characteristics (Millais Nurseries, 2016):

  • An Azalea has 5 stamens while other Rhododendrons have 10 or more
  • Azaleas may be deciduous or evergreen and other Rhododendrons are all evergreen
  • Azaleas are small to medium shrubs but other Rhododendrons range from prostrate shrubs to trees

However, they all require the same conditions to grow.

 

White rhododendron
White azaleas in full bloom at Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei, Taiwan. Photo taken on 13 March 2015.

Beautiful Azaleas

Azaleas flourish
Blossoming in profusion
With the winds of spring

Khor Hui Min
1 April 2016

 

Sea of hope

For last¬†week’s¬†#‚ÄéMYWritersPoetryPrompt‚Ĩ¬†in the ##‚ÄéMYWriters‚Ĩ FB group,¬†I put up a photo of fishing boats I took in a fishing village in Penang. Famously known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is¬†a state in Malaysia located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia. I love the old world charm which permeates the island, with it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and age-old traditions coexisting comfortably side by side with modernity. I think that’s part of what makes Penang special. Of course, there is the wonderful food. ūüôā

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Modernity¬†and globalization should never¬†replace traditions and cultures, because that’s what makes a place and its people unique. It gives them an identity they can be proud of.

Here’s the¬†poem I wrote. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sea of Hope

Before daybreak, before the crack of dawn
Old boats slink out, in search of fish and prawns
Slowly making their way, from the shallows
To the depths; none in self-pity wallow
Lives spent in toil; sweat mixed with tears and salt
From dawn to dusk; with the turtles and whales
From azure calm, to thunderstorms and gales
Life at sea, where uncertainties abound
Hands covered with calluses; skin burnt brown
Catch fish and seafood, for village and town
Etched in furrows of brows; thoughts without sound
Dreaming of coming home to smiles and hugs
Monsoon nights at home; steaming coffee mugs
Of spicy sambal and coconut rice
To but earn enough; we must pay the price
To send children to school; to read, to learn
For a better life ‚Äď that is our concern

Khor Hui Min
9 March 2016

 

RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #82 Star&Child

For Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Challenge #82, the word prompts are ‘star’ and ‘child’. I imagined stars in the universe, the milky way, and children born full of¬†potential to make the world a better place than their parents and grandparents before them.

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Photo taken in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore on 1 May 2015

 

Star dust

We are all star dust
Children of the universe
Radiant unique beings

Khor Hui Min
6 February 2016

 

Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge Image 2016

 

Friends by chance

I saw an interesting picture in an impromptu poetry prompt yesterday, and decided to write something about it. I scribbled my poem on a piece of paper and it was ready in 15 minutes. ūüôā ¬†Here’s the picture and the poem. ūüėČ

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Friends by Chance

Strangers from afar
Chance encounters
Of broken hearts
And hollow souls
Disenchanted minds
Pouring their hearts out
Sharing disappointments
Drowning their sorrows
Discovering kindred spirits
Becoming lifelong friends

Khor Hui Min
19 January 2016

 

3 poems published in EASTLIT Dec 2015

I have gotten into the habit of writing poems every week, and if I feel like it, a few a day. To me, it is a fun activity – an exploration of life and experiences, and sometimes the telling of fictitious stories, through an artful play of words. When I feel like it, I like to toy around with the number of syllables in each line, and mash up the rhyming schemes.

I was delighted when EASTLIT ‚Äď the Journal of English Literature, East and South East Asia, selected three of my poems to be included in the December¬†2015 issue. This is the second time EASTLIT has published my poems. The first was in the August 2015 issue.

 

Eastlit December 2015 Cover. Picture: Sunset Near Corbett, India by Kamakshi Lekshmanan. Cover design by Graham Lawrence. Copyright photographer, Eastlit and Graham Lawrence.

The three poems selected were The Happiness Within, Dance of the Sea and In Between. I have copied them from the journal and shared them with you below.

The Happiness Within & Other Poems

                                                                                              by Khor Hui Min

The Happiness Within

Happiness; ‚Äėtis an age-old pursuit
Humanity’s constant search
Would you rather refute?
Looking, high as the bird’s perch

How much for happiness?
Per chance a billion or two?
How much for completeness?
To make one whole; goodbye woe?

What does it take?
Conquer the highest mountain?
Swim to the abyss of a lake?
Drink from eternal youth’s fountain?

Who can bequeath it?
A father or mother?
The best mate; perfect fit?
Or why does one bother?

Happiness; ‚Äėtis not a void
To be filled and quenched
A gaping hollow; fixed by Freud
Or a deal to be clinched

Happiness comes from within
From the heart and soul; enduring
Fulfilment sprouts from therein
Life enriched; love encompassing

 

Dance of the Sea

A marvel of beauty and grace
In a garment of liquid lace
Expressive pirouettes; unfaltering
Enraptured in melody; pleasing
Existing only for the moment
In an intoxicating sea of movement
Living only to dance; shrouded in song
Where muses and sirens belong
Rhythmic figures of the deep
The ensemble that never sleeps

 

In Between

In between
Slumber and wakefulness

In between
Consciousness and unconsciousness

In between
Brightness and shadow

In between
Light and dark

In between
Sight and imagination

Was it there?
Or was it a dream?

Can we see beyond
Our limitations?

Or are we forever rooted
To the confines of our mind?