Right of the Soil by Yong Shu Hoong
Right of the Soil by Yong Shu Hoong

Right of the Soil

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by Yong Shu Hoong 

Read 4 poems from Right of the Soil →


The Latin phrase, jus soli (“right of the soil”), is an unconditional right of a person born within the territory of a country to be conferred citizenship. Singapore’s nationality law is based on jus sanguinis (“right of blood”, in which citizenship is determined by that of one or both parents) and a modified form of jus soli (with at least one Singaporean parent).

A two-time Singapore Literature Prize winner, Yong Shu Hoong contemplates how a person is invariably bound to the land on which he first sets foot. These poems address topics like belongingness and birthright by exploring the intermingling of the four fundamental elements of air, water, fire and earth.

Expanded from a 2016 chapbook published a year after the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, this book also attempts to sharpen Yong’s understanding of his relationship with his homeland. A new sequence of poems then plunges readers into Hell, reimagined as Singapore’s third integrated resort that opens underground in the centennial year of 2065, with its concepts inspired by Haw Par Villa’s main attraction, the 10 Courts of Hell.  

Beyond our earthly lives, is it soil – or another element or dimension – that will assert its right to claim us?     

About the Author

Yong Shu Hoong has previously authored five poetry collections, including Frottage (2005) and The Viewing Party (2013), which both won the Singapore Literature Prize. His poems and short stories have been published in literary journals like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), and anthologies like Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008).

He has edited anthologies like Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys (2013), as well as Here Now There After (2017), which was commissioned for the #BuySingLit movement. He is one of the four co-authors of The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (2015) and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home (2016).

Yong lives in Singapore, where he teaches part-time at Republic Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He was writer-in-residence at NTU from August 2013 to February 2014. In February and March 2016, he is the Presidential International Visiting Scholar at Wheelock College, Boston, in the United States.

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ISBN: 978-981-11-7701-9
Published: 2018
Dimension: 120mm x 200mm  
Extent: 96
Finish: Paperback