Festival Poets


Festival poets after the show,
in narrow hotel rooms, the door
double-locked television tuned to
something ambiguous

Festival poets light a fuse, fireworks
on feast day, a hymn of words touches
hidden places, tongues explore the ways
to translate an entrance, an exit

Making love from loneliness,
festival poets churn furiously, until butter
melts in the mouth of gods, until birds
enter a room of remembering

Until loneliness grows hard,
until rhythm takes over
slipping in and out, up and down
Until crescendo

Finally something like a sudden rain
explodes in relief, a lingering
scent of shame,
stanzas spurting on the sheet

The festival poet
falls asleep
in the sweat of a first draft;
in silence and sticky fingers

This Is Not A Safety Barrier

After close to two years of work on this anthology, it is finally here!
This Is Not A Safety Barrier is a collection of poems and photographs responding to this ubiquitous phrase found on plastic barriers at construction sites. It represents a selection of opinions seen in disparate images, both textually and visually, from people who are pushing back against the barriers, many invisible, that exist all around us.

In doing so, I hope that this collection expands the space of civic society and creates further opportunities for dialogue about who we are as a people and where we are going.

This project was made possible with the steadfast support of Ethos Books and my incredible co-editor, the gifted Yen Phang.

Come join us at the launch on 17 September 2016 at The Projector!

File 4-9-16, 10 52 35 PM

New Shows!

July sure is a busy month for performances.

All of the Light (with Neon & Wonder)
Come 13th July, I’ll be at the Central Public Library to perform at the 2016 NLB Read! Festival.


The set is called ‘All of the Light,’ and my poems and songs will revolve around light and all of its connotations.

More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/627972884025978/

Wok with Marc Nair (Kuching)
From 22-25 July I’ll be in Kuching, Malaysia to run a couple of spoken word workshops and also do a solo spoken-word show with beats and other suitable musical sounds.

You can read a lovely write up by the Borneo Post here: http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/06/24/marc-holds-workshops-on-poetry-and-spoken-word/


House Party
And on 27th and 29th July, I’m teaming up with Marylyn Tan and Shivram Gopinath to put on a brand new spoken word theatre/performance called House Party. Its not your typical spoken word show, but neither is it strictly theatre. We’re even thowing in a couple of songs just to shake things up!

Tickets here: http://ptix.co/29iY2Fz

House Party Poster


The Daily Haiku

I’ve been making a daily photohaiku on Instagram for the last month. It’s been quite the challenge, to find an image with enough ‘space’ to include a haiku, or to ensure the image isn’t compromised by the existence of text on it, as opposed to being a caption. This, I suppose, is an experiment to see how text becomes part of the image, and therefore part of the visual representation of what a haiku could be. Less ekphrasis, more espresso.

Here are a few of my favourites:

IMG_1360 3 IMG_1533 3 IMG_1550 3 IMG_1440 3 IMG_1464 3

On Image-Making

Painted Light 4

Always a camera on the table,
always memory carded in its side,

the lure to capture some unspoken
angle in ordered frames, as if these

dimensions can tell the whole story in
double exposures. Time blurs the sea;

Painted Light 2
what is beyond is never considered.
Slow down the blinking shutter

so everything illuminates in well-
composed lines, grid-eyed, pleasing.

Painted Light 3

The aperture ring opens to its full yawn,
the moment snaps, shutting out neutral

densities, displeasing shadows, higher
definitions pixelated against purpose.

That’s all it ever is, isn’t it – a room left
in light, dots on the page, a grain of truth.

Painted Light 1

And Spomenik is away!

 My sixth collection of poetry, Spomenik, was launched at the Arts House on Saturday, 12th March 2016. It was a milestone for me, as this is the first time my poems and photographs have been published together.

The poems and photographs are interwoven together in the book, and while one can read them individually, they are best seen as complementing each other. 

Spomenik is the Croatian word for monument, and I envisioned the art in this book to be a series of monuments that speak of my journey through the Balkans.

 I had a fantastic emcee and friend in the lovely Michelle Martin, who governed the session with aplomb and perfect timing, and I’m extremely grateful to the able team at Ethos Books, who decided to take a chance on this very left-field idea and bring it to completion. My thanks to Mr Ethos himself, Fong Hoe Fang, for first being convinced and subsequently Kah Gay, Suning and Adeleena for patiently shaping and crafting the work until my vision was realised.

Here’s a video from Six-six News, where I read one of my poems from Spomenik. Enjoy!

 Past the Gates of Socialism

 You can pick up a copy of Spomenik online, or at selected bookstores around Singapore. 

Litprom 2016

It was a busy weekend at Litprom, the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature. The 2016 edition of the festival, with the theme ‘New World Literature and the Global South,’ featured 12 authors from Asia, Africa and South America. Together with Amanda Lee Koe from Singapore, we joined a distinguished bevy of writers on a range of panels and discussions.

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Just before the festival, I had the chance to speak at the Metropolitan School Frankfurt to a very endearing and enthusiastic bunch of 9th and 10th Graders about the power and value of poetry. I think my rendition of Dog TV had them thinking about the possibilities of seeing the poetic through the mundane.

Then I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Dirk Huelstrunk, the grandfather of poetry slam in Frankfurt. A true pioneer of slam in the city, nowadays, he trucks in his own cadences, merging sound art through words and loops. The soundscape is emotive, charged with dissonance and urgency and we worked on two pieces, Camera Be and Well Done, which we performed as part of the closing act for the festival. I helmed the rest of the evening, doing favourites such as Made in China and O Holy Torrent as well as newer pieces such as Kenny G. The latter was accompanied with a mash up of Kenny G’s tunes, to much hilarity.

The festival was held over a rainy, windy weekend in Frankfurt. A buzzing business city at best, it empties out during weekends, and the weather seemed to follow, dropping to -5 degrees Celsius in the mornings.

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Sometimes, the best conversations were held over mealtimes. One memorable lunch I had was with Angolan author José Eduardo Agualusa and Brazilian fictionist Luiz Ruffato. We traded stories about ludicrous festival experiences, including one being stuck on a cruise boat floating down the Amazon for a whole week. The audience was a bunch of older women, constantly making ‘literary’ advances, like piranhas circling for the kill.

I had the chance to walk briefly around in the drizzle on the day after the festival, snapping a few photos, and deciding that monochrome best fit the mood of the city.

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Another year, and He has not returned.

The baubles are spun, presents delivered,

the manger dusted, animals arrayed

for one more party, and so we wait, frayed

ends of fairy lights blink on familiar 

trees, what new xmas blessing holds us dear

as we hark the herald on silent nights, 

Bethlehem a soft dance on tongues, a flight

of wise men under starsong. As shepherds

shuffle to angels singing praise, the world

pops bubbly cheer, worrying in another

year, raising pagan prayers to remember

echoes of a kingdom built on promise;  

He will return on a holy night’s kiss. 


Smoking Poetry at TedxSingapore 2015

I was honoured to be a speaker at this year’s TedxSingapore. It was the largest ever Tedx held here, with 1,700 participants coming to catch two days of energetic, awe-inspiring speakers. I was amongst hallowed company with luminaries Hans Rosling and Tony Wheeler as well as local heroes like Gwee Li Sui, Randolf Arriola, Crystal Goh and Eugene Soh.

Here’s my contribution; a treatise on why poetry seems to have a problem, and what we can do about it.