Theophilus Kwek writes poetry and nonfiction. His poetry collections Circle Line (2014) and Giving Ground (2016) have been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and his pamphlet The First Five Storms (2017) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award and won the New Poets’ Prize. His most recent collection, Giving Ground (2020), was published by Carcanet Press. He has also co-edited two anthologies of Singapore writing, UnFree Verse (2017) and Who Are You My Country (2018), and edited the genre-crossing memoir of Bangladeshi poet MD Sharif Uddin, Stranger to Myself, which won the Singapore Book Award in 2018. He previously served as co-editor of Oxford Poetry, poetry reader for The London Magazine, and editor-at-large (Singapore) for Asymptote. He currently co-edits the online journal The Kindling, and serves as poetry editor for the Asian Books Blog.
There’s a scientific explanation for most things like how life, as they say, flickers into view moments from the end or how the soul slips the body briefly – a sneeze, then dark – but for what he saw that early bright afternoon as it fell with a clang about him, sky cold as steel flinching from the sea as if in shock and the waves with a dash of alchemy turning to iron as he was, then wasn’t a shadow stretched over their salt surface has still not been found any known cause nor sequence from which we might begin to derive some hypothesis, some guess towards a truth… no, merely the report of his mouth which was seen, as he toppled from the bow into a stretch of channel uneasily held between two territories, to be holding in its yell the start of some unspoken sentence, an opening that could be imagined by some of those who saw the shape of him falling, and knew something of the deep that would come, to be the same syllable that they too heard, too often, and hated, and understood.
From No News: 90 Poets reflect on a unique BBC newscast (Recent Work Press, 2020)