Theophilus Kwek is a prolific writer with five collections to his credit. His latest, Moving House, articulates a preoccupation with the themes of migration, belonging, colonial history, and the turbulent politics of the present.
Kwek is uniquely qualified to tackle these themes. He grew up in Singapore, graduated with a degree in history and politics, and has been involved with the plight of refugees, co-editing Flight, an anthology of poetry in response to the European refugee crisis. As a migrant student in the UK, Kwek suffered the consequences of xenophobia by way of a racist attack, which he touches upon in the poem ‘Occurrence’:
Nothing much then, now nearly unseen –
a cut beneath the eye. A bruise, fading
to skin, frown and furrow, fine print […]
These lines exemplify how expertly a poem can marry form with meaning. The line endings trace the journey from a physical experience to a written one – ‘unseen’, ‘fading’ to ‘fine print’. This movement is felt in other poems as well. ‘Witness’, the opening poem details an accident that happens in the rush of everyday life:
She was already gone. And so were we,
drawn on by the bus’ trajectory […]