Winner of the Singapore Literature Prize (Poetry 2020)

What do we expect of an author who is unapologetically female? What do we expect of consuming art in general? Should a work be easy, should a work be safe?

Marylyn Tan’s debut volume, GAZE BACK, complicates ideas of femininity, queerness, and the occult. The feminine grotesque subverts the restrictions placed upon the feminine body to be attractive and its subjection to notions of the ideal. The occultic counterpoint to organised religion, then, becomes a way toward techniques of empowering the marginalised.

GAZE BACK, ultimately, is an instruction book, a grimoire, a call to insurrection—to wrest power back from the social structures that serve to restrict, control and distribute it amongst those few privileged above the disenfranchised.

Read the first poem from GAZE BACK →



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“Marylyn Tan is an essential badass! Here is a voice for the audience of outcasts, an extraordinary poetry where the endangered body can find true solidarity. With an uncompromising lens on the human condition with sexts and symbols of moons and gender, resulting in unforgettable poems of deviance propelling culture forward.” —CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death

“This is an eviscerating, deliciously sacrilegious poetry that enacts, transgressing parameters of comfort and convention, its own agency for freedom within a post-gender, non-essentialist, even post-verbal, perspective, while also re-empowering what it means to be feminine and queer.” —Cyril Wong, author of The Lover’s Inventory

“GAZE BACK is eloquent confrontation – it challenges the ways in which society polices gender, and the boundaries by which many define poetry. Tan’s gaze is not just a reciprocal look. It is a forceful glare, an unapologetic gape, an accusing stare. It is a refusal to break eye contact.” —Tania de Rozario, author of And The Walls Come Crumbling Down & Tender Delirium

“ ... accessible and impenetrable; vulgar and abstruse; wise and streetwise; intellectual and also keenly felt.” —Junk Asia


Marylyn Tan