This Is Not A Safety Barrier: An Anthology of Poetry & Photography


The city has never been ours; it is fleeting, a collection of habits and faint peals of laughter from glass towers. 

The old rivers are covered up, disinfected, bricked. Still we flood, still we rumble our dissent; insufficient to overtake taste buds, just enough to tempt.

We are labels, numbers, we are queues. We are yes-men of yesterday’s news, multi-racial at convenient moments, diverse on GRC posters, silent when it counts. 

The photograph questions our intent, the gaze an outstretched palm holding a question that need not be answered.

The poem, when set against the tarmac of public sentiment, becomes a cracked window letting in shards of concrete light, a certain discomfiture. 

Our borders are porous; the search for identity, more so.

This Is Not A Safety Barrier is an anthology of 113 poems and photographs from 69 contributors.

Background to the Anthology

Singapore is a city constantly under construction, both physically and ideologically. Construction sites everywhere spot the ubiquitous red and white barriers demarcating that area as a no-go zone. Each one has a sign proclaiming, ‘This is not a safety barrier’.

Taking a leaf from this absolute phrase, the anthology presents a collection of poems and  photographs that question and challenge the barriers in our country – whether physical, ideological or imagined. It is an artistic social commentary of what is defined and/or undefined, with questions, comments, and explorations into the journey of how one reacts in response to rethinking monolithic national narratives. 

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This Is Not A Safety Barrier: An Anthology of Poetry & Photography

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Marc Nair, Yen Phang