Jean Ng is an ever-expanding sponge. She was born in Jakarta and now shuttles between Sydney and Singapore. Having lived in two hemispheres, she has accumulated a whole bunch of material in her sponge self, as well as frequent-flyer miles. Currently an undergraduate in Nanyang Technological University majoring in English Literature, she hopes to live in a windy, airy place on top of a hill. Someday. RAP spoke to the young writer to know more about her literary practice.
Question (Q): Tell us more about your works that are showcased in the show!
Jean Ng(Ng): It is a poem – or rather a collection of several short quips – in the shape of a woman sleeping. Each part of the woman’s body is related to a specific experience. This is mostly a comment on our personal experiences and how when we are in the midst of them we don’t necessarily see the bigger picture. So when we put them together alongside other experiences, they form a perspective and also a whole body of history that makes up a human being.
When you first meet someone you notice their mannerisms, the way they walk and talk etc and those things are a reflection of where they’ve been and what they’ve gone through in life. In a sense, their history is written on their bodies. This poem tries to illustrate that.
Q: This is your first attempt in creating visuals and texts together, how do you feel about it?
Ng: I felt a bit lost at first because I am so used to typing on a computer, and that sort of writing is very confined by things like lines, margins, paragraphs, full sentences. So when finally freed of all the conventions, I didn’t know where to put my words and sort of fumbled around a bit until I settled on some guidelines.
And writing it in my own hand (instead of pressing buttons on a keyboard) made me more aware of the texture of each word and how the meaning of the word can be conveyed through font. I had some fun playing with size, texture and the colour of each word.
Q: Share with us your general art practice, especially in the field of writing which seems to be your forte.
Ng: I’m actually quite new to writing, especially poetry. I’m still learning some of the mechanics and I still have a long way to go. That said, generally I like to do things that I am not used to and I like to challenge myself to try newer forms and ways of writing. I’m a strong believer that writing needs to be more than just a cathartic process of letting your feelings out and that it needs to rally other people and move them to do things beyond their everyday comfort zone.
Q: What do you think of LGBT writings locally, or in the region?
Ng: There are several writers who are prominent such as Alfian Sa’at, Cyril Wong and Ng Yi-Sheng. But I notice there are very little women writing about LGBT issues in Singapore, especially so in the newer generation of writers. I would definitely like to see more women LGBT writings and I think this will come when more lesbian women become more visible in our society. Fingers crossed!
Q: Any plans to write LGBT writings in the future?
Ng: Yeah definitely, definitely! As I learn more and pick up things along the way… experiences… skills… slowly, I think it will come out. J
Q: Any last words for the LGBT community?
Ng: Keep it real. Be yourself. Work hard and don’t be afraid to break boundaries
Emin Says … run from 2 November to 5 December at tocaMe bar. More on the show here.