Published by Ethos Books
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Available at BooksActually and Kinokuniya Orchard
At home with loneliness and passing encounters, can we be familiar with another or even ourselves? Does love outweigh the uncertainty of its memory? In his third and latest collection, award-winning poet Jerrold Yam ushers us into a traveller’s world through sensitive and enquiring eyes, navigating a landscape of flitting figures, thoughts and emotions.
Informed by expansive travel across Asia and Europe, Yam’s poetry is as varied as his journey, exploring geysers, horse riding and Picasso, while building on his preoccupations with family, sensuality and displacement. His poems make fresh the contradictions of young adulthood, its heady mix of determined restlessness, bold insecurities, desire for intimacy and fear of commitment. In his unflinchingly honest treatment of these themes, Yam exhibits new range and complexity as he describes a shifting terrain, where moving on is as difficult as letting go.
Above all, Intruder is an attempt to make sense of the impermanent structures that hold up one’s life. Home, like love, may be a fiction that we must resist claiming for our own. After all, can we – and should we – be more than intruders?
Jerrold Yam writes with an old voice and the youthful abandon of a poet out of his safe shell; a strong conviction of his depthless solitude yet weak in the presence of love and desire. His poems are lamentable etudes of one-word titles so vocal of absence and longing they are heartrending to those in the thick throes of love’s discovery, loss and reconciliation.
– Grace Chia, author of Cordelia and womango
Continuing the grace and eloquence of Yam’s earlier collections, Intruder at once strips back and finely embroiders the moments of connection, strangeness and longing between us. Each moment of excavation is touched by the sting of hard-won, lost and lived experiences. Still, there is a grace in Yam’s seamless skate — from thought to thought, between people, places, and the changing faces of home. In these poems, Yam braves a deepening that is at once reflective and tense, with a sensual voice that is fast attaining heat.
– Jasmine Ann Cooray, 2013 writer-in-residence at the National University of Singapore
Jerrold’s poems have always been startlingly tender, soulful and enigmatic. But there’s an intriguing new wave of experimentation with form in this volume, as he strives to map out his relationship with his father and his years abroad as an undergraduate in the UK.
– Ng Yi-Sheng, winner of the Singapore Literature Prize
Reviews and Mentions
Filial duties, family ties and the search for identity are the themes of Yam’s heartfelt personal poetry. The law undergraduate at University College London is a name to watch…
– The Straits Times (Singapore)
10 Milestone Books Written By Singaporeans And Why You Need To Read Them: This poetry collection by Jerrold Yam discusses the themes of impermanence and displacement. …“Change is the only constant” may be an old adage that sums this up succinctly, but there’s just something about having a whole story developed around love and loss.
– The Smart Local (Singapore)
Yam’s poetry has successfully reached out to an audience beyond the shores of Singapore, holding an international appeal and yet retaining its status as national literature. In considering what makes literature “Singaporean”, it is interesting to note that Yam rejects the use of Singlish, and instead weaves an impression of the nation through his private experiences that references public spaces within Singapore. He deals with familiar themes of exile and return, and expresses what many fail to articulate though simple and elegant writing.
– Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore (Singapore)