They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue by Theophilus Kwek front cover
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They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue

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by Theophilus Kwek

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“What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?” asks Lewis Carroll’s Alice.

Perhaps there isn’t any. But within this slim poetry volume, Theophilus Kwek has painted the images and articulated the exchanges that shape his landscape, family and self – an open invitation to partake, with him, in a feast of the soul and for the senses. Join this young writer as he embarks on, as John Morley describes, “the most seductive, the most deceiving, the most dangerous” of journeys, and steps forward to reclaim his tongue.

About the Author

Largely inspired by indeterminate explorations of the Singaporean landscape, Theophilus’ poems have been featured in various publications – including the Mascara Literary Review, Ceriph, Reflecting On The Merlion and & Words: Poems from Singapore and Beyond – as well as in competitions here and abroad, receiving a Commendation at the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2010. Having just started writing in earnest over the past two years, Theophilus is still struggling to find his voice, and pursues his twin passions of photography and music in the meantime.


“There is a pulsing honesty to Theo’s writing - at the same time sophisticated, resonantly simple and childlike in its playfulness. Readers will find his joy with words and life infectious as they explore the turns of phrase in these poems, whose meanings extend both inward to a core of person-ness we all share, and outward to an external world that holds continual surprise.”
- Aaron Maniam, author of Morning at Memory’s Border

“Honest, translucent and charged with quiet urgency. Theophilus writes with the pressing clarity of a young Alvin Pang.”
– Daren Shiau, author of Heartland, Peninsular: Archipelagos and Other Islands and Velouria.

“There is something deeply compelling about Kwek’s poetry, because it never purports to be other than what it is: the heartfelt yet deeply considered views of an informed young person on the cusp of a wider world.”
- Alvin Pang, author of City of Rain and Testing The Silence

“His best poems, well crafted, sustained, thought-provoking, already exhibit a gratifying maturity, complexity and wit. That Kwek should be writing memorable poetry of this quality at 17 is extraordinary.”
Angus Whitehead, Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language & Literature

• • •

ISBN: 978-981-08- 7535-0
Published: 2011
Dimension: 120mm x 200mm
Extent: 74
Finish: Paperback



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