3 S'pore poets weigh in on poem written by Kristen Stewart

14 February 2014 / 2 years 8 months ago

Twilight actress Kristen Stewart recently recited her poem, My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole, during an interview with Marie Claire magazine.

The magazine decided to publish the poem.

Here's what three Singaporean poets have to say about her poem, reports The Straits Times Communities:

Yong Shu Hoong:

The somewhat odd title raises questions over Kristen Stewart's skill in conjuring metaphors. It's intriguing how the two items are paired in Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole. Or does she mean for the poem to have two titles: My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball and Freedom Pole?

But entering into the poem proper, there is a sense that she's self-consciously bandying words together -- often pretentious and trying too hard to be hip (for example, "I reared digital moonlight"), and sometimes incongruent in the linking of words ("drunk" and "morsels").

The flow and rhythm, created via line breaks, can also be improved, but ultimately, more honesty and less window-dressing would work better in infecting the poem's readers with her emotions and thoughts.

Yong Shu Hoong is writer-in-residence at Nanyang Technological University. He is author of five collections of poetry, including the Singapore Literature Prize-winning Frottage (2005) and the latest, The Viewing Party (2013).

Christine Chia:

This poem has received a lot of online flak probably because of its title My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole, and the collage of images in the poem that do not cohere to illustrate the metaphor(s) in the title.

The choice of "wiffle ball" sounds absurd because the words "wiffle ball" sound and look frivolous when used to describe "my heart", which is commonly seen as a symbol of emotional sincerity. In that sense, Stewart may be signalling that she intends the poem to be read as an absurdist or Dadaist poem, which would flaunt its incoherence as something to be proud of.

As teachers, we always try to be encouraging and to give the student the benefit of the doubt.

Christine Chia is an English Literature teacher. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at The New School in New York. She is the author of The Law of Second Marriages (Math Paper Press) and The Filial Defense (Ethos Books, forthcoming). The second edition of The Law Of Second Marriages will be released in mid-March.

Paul Tan:

An honest attempt but weighed down by strained metaphors and head-scratching turns of phrases such as the coinage "kismetly". I wish the poem knew where it is going, and what larger affect or meaning it was aiming for.

While it is always good when celebrities shine the spotlight on creative writing, the vampiric dazzle of the personality should not overshadow the importance of thoughtful craft. Honestly, I think many of our Singaporean poets can do a far better job.

Paul Tan is festival director of Singapore Writers Festival.He has published Curious Roads (1994), Driving into Rain (1998) and First Meeting of Hands (2006). He is working on his fourth collection of verse.

Read Kristen Stewart's poem in the gallery below.

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