Reaching For Stones: Collected Poems (1963-2009) - Ethos Books

Reaching For Stones: Collected Poems (1963-2009)

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Alternatively, archival copies of Reaching For Stones: Collected Poems (1963-2009) are available at the National Library Board.


by Chandran Nair

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Chandran Nair’s poetry has been described as impressing with its “versatility and hard brilliance of style” as well as providing an important study of how growing up in Singapore with an English education and Chinese, Indian and Malay influences shape points of view in poetry in English. The poems reveal a real and not “a revolving man” in the words of one reviewer, while another feels that the poems succeed not merely through technical competence but also because “he writes with feeling. It is his feelings that we see most of the time, a kaleidoscope of changing emotions and events through which Mr Nair stands unchanged, unyielding and uncompromised”.

The 101 poems in this collection represent two volumes of poetry, Once the Horsemen and Other poems (1972) and After the Hard Hours, This Rain (1975) as well as poems since published in journals and anthologies in many countries and not collected into book form. They provide an interesting glimpse into the post colonial literature in English of Singapore and Malaysia.

About The Author

Chandran Nair came to Singapore from India at the age of seven in 1951 and grew up in the Havelock road area. He was educated at Raffles Institution and the University of Singapore from which he holds a Masters in Science (in marine biology). His first book of poems Once the Horsemen and Other poems was published in 1972 followed byAfter the Hard Hours, This Rain in 1975. He has edited and/ or been included in anthologies including Short Stories from Africa and Asia,Singapore Writing, The Second Tongue, Journeys and The Calling of Kindred. He served as founder president of the Society of Singapore Writers from 1976 till 1981 when he left Singapore to take up a post with UNESCO in Karachi where he also started painting in oils. He retired from UNESCO in Paris in 2004 and now lives in France. He married Ivy Goh Pek Kien in 1973 and they have three daughters Radha, Meera and Chandrika.


"A master wordsmith, Nair’s language is clear and concise, trimming out the superfluous yet not compromising on the lyricism that words have to offer. He focuses not on the fancifulness of each individual text on the paper but the complexity of weaving each line and stanza to form a neatly stitched fabric of written communication, syntax and rhythm. The poems shaped under his careful craftsmanship are accessible to the average reader; yet elaborate enough to satisfy a literary enthusiast. Chandran Nair allows his readers to sneak a glimpse of his private life, making the book an extremely intimate experience... Reaching for Stones: Collected Poems (1963 – 2009), might just be the book that will cause strangers to poetry to fall in love with the English language all over again."
- The Urban Wire

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ISBN: 978-981-08-6717-1
Published: 2010
Dimension: 120mm x 205mm
Extent: 152
Finish: Paperback