Fifteen years ago, Koh Jee Leong left a promising career in Singapore’s Education Service in order to become a poet in New York City. The change was transformative. Bite Harder: Open Letters and Close Readings tells the story of the change through essays that blend the personal and the literary: unlikely friendships in graduate school and the Village; encounters with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and the activism of gender rights advocate Pauline Park; reading Eavan Boland on the Upper West Side and reading Gregory Woods in Queens. These formative experiences are described alongside pioneering essays on Singapore poets, such as Goh Poh Seng, Cyril Wong, Yeow Kai Chai, and Justin Chin, and uncompromising letters about the struggle for freedom of expression. Koh’s unique perspective as both insider and outsider informs these essays and letters.
Bite Harder is a vital contribution to the nascent genre of literary essays and the field of cultural criticism in Singapore.
About the Author
Koh Jee Leong is the author of Steep Tea (Carcanet), named a Best Book of the Year by UK’s Financial Times and a Finalist by Lambda Literary in the USA. He has published three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu, the last shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize. His work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Russian, and Latvian. Born and raised in Singapore, Koh now lives and works in New York City, where he heads the literary non-profit Singapore Unbound, dedicated to the struggle for freedom of expression and equal rights for all. Towards these ends, he organizes the biennial Singapore Literature Festival in NYC, edits SP blog, and publishes authors of Asian heritage, from Asia and America, under the imprint Gaudy Boy.
• • •ISBN: 978-981-09-8101-3
Dimension: 150mm x 220mm