Poem of the month: In His Other House - Jee Leong Koh

The light from the window looks like a huge, blank sea.
In this other house there will be time to fill it but right now
the bell intones in silver, and here, on a surprise night visit,
are my sister and her two daughters coming through the door.

Over Jee Leong Koh’s new collection, Steep Tea, a line of women poets hovers like a host of – no, not muses, but surrogate mothers. The epigraphs from these poets’ works are often brief, no more than a couple of lines, but serve to underline a major theme or direction. Disposability is part of the attraction of his poetic mothers, Koh claims, but some of the writing has clearly served as midwife to his own imagination. In this week’s poem, eloquent lines by the Irish poet, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, help Koh to realise a perfect amalgamation of his two homes, the Singapore he left 12 years ago and his adopted New York City.

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