Boey Kim Cheng



Boey Kim Cheng (b. 1965, Singapore–) is widely regarded as one of the most promising Singapore poets to emerge in the 1990s.Boey has published four collections of poetry. Three of his works, Somewhere-boundAnother Place and Days of No Name, have won awards.For his artistic achievements, Boey received the National Arts Council Young Artist Award in 1996. He taught for 13 years at the University of Newcastle in Australia. In 2016, he joined Nanyang Technological University as an associate professor at its School of Humanities.4 He is currently the head of its English department.5

Early life

Boey was born in Singapore in 1965. He received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from the National University of Singapore (NUS). In 1993, he won a scholarship from the Goethe-Institut to pursue German Studies in Murnau, Germany. The following year, he attended the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in the U.S. Boey embarked on a doctoral programme with NUS, which he later discontinued. He entered the workforce and was employed by the Ministry of Community Development as a probation officer. Disillusioned with the state of literary and cultural politics in Singapore, Boey left for Sydney, Australia with his wife in 1996. While in Australia, he completed his doctorate at the University of Macquarie and taught at the University of Newcastle. He is now an Australian citizen.6


Literary career 
In 1987, Boey won first prize in the NUS Poetry Competition while an undergraduate.7 At the age of 24, he published his first collection of poetry, Somewhere-bound, which eventually won the National Book Development Council Singapore (NBDCS) Book Award for Poetry.8 In 1992, he published his second volume of poetry, Another Place, to much acclaim.In 1995, Days of No Name, which was inspired by people he met had in the U.S., was awarded a merit at the Singapore Literature Prize.10 In recognition of his artistic talent and contributions, Boey received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 1996.11 

After a long hiatus, Boey returned with his fourth volume of poetry in 2006. After the Fire deals primarily with the passing of his father in 2000.12 Boey’s works have also appeared in anthologies such as From Boys to Men: A Literary Anthology of National Service in SingaporeRhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry; and No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry.13

Boey’s works are highly regarded by both the academic and writing communities in Singapore. Writer Shirley Lim remarked that he is the “best post-1965 English language poet in the Republic today”.14 His sense of restlessness about life in Singapore is often reflected in his poems. According to him, Singapore’s rapid growth and swift economic success have been achieved at a cost and feelings of displacement and disconnection with the past occur precisely because places where one might have experienced a sense of belonging in their childhood are fast disappearing.15

Boey is the co-founder of Mascara Literary Review, the first Australian literary journal to promote Asian Australian writing. He also co-edited the groundbreaking anthology Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (2013). In 2013, Boey returned to Singapore as one of Nanyang Technological University’s writers-in-residence and is currently an associate professor at the division of English.16 His poems have also been studied as part of the ‘A’ level English Literature syllabus, alongside other homegrown writers such as Kuo Pao Kun.17

Influences
Lee Tzu Pheng, Boey’s former lecturer, is often credited as being his mentor.18 In terms of poetic direction and discipline, Boey attributes T. S. Eliot, John Keats, Gerald Manley Hopkins, William Wordsworth, W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney as his major influences. His favourite authors include Albert Camus, Keats, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Nikos Kazantzakis. He also enjoys the poetic works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell and Pablo Neruda, as well as novelists Bruce Chatwin, Peter Matthiessen, Colin Thubron and Joan Didion. Besides the literary arts, Boey also enjoys the visual arts. In particular, he admires the works of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as films by Wim Wenders, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Akira Kurosawa.19


Awards
1992: NBDCS Book Award for Poetry for Somewhere-bound.20
1995: Merit Award for the Singapore Literature Prize for Days of No Name.21
1996: National Arts Council Young Artist Award for Literature.22

Works
1989: Somewhere-bound23
1992: Another Place24
1996: Days of No Name25
2006: After the Fire: New and Selected Poems26
2009: Between Stations27
2012: Clear Brightness28



Author

Gracie Lee



References
1. Singh, K. (1999). Introduction. In K. Singh (Ed.), Interlogue: Studies in Singapore 17.Literature, Vol. 2: Poetry. Singapore: Ethos Books, pp. 16–17. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT)
2. Nanyang Technological University. (2013, July 9). Four acclaimed writers call NTU home. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Nanyang Technological University website: http://media.ntu.edu.sg/Pages/newsdetail.aspx?news=2d2d65a9-4a17-4f9f-8f39-c6d54d02cca2
3. Poetry.SG. (2015). About Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Poetry.SG website: http://www.poetry.sg/poets/boey-kim-cheng/
4. Boey Kim Cheng (2017, May 8). In the footsteps of a Tang dynasty poet. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
5. Nanyang Technological University. (2012). Research directory: Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2018, October 5 from Nanyang Technological University website: http://research.ntu.edu.sg/expertise/academicprofile/Pages/StaffProfile.aspx?ST_EMAILID=KCBOEY

6. Hamilton, I., & Noel-Tod, J. (Eds.). (2013). Boey, Kim Cheng. In The Oxford companion to modern poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 59. (Call no.: R 821.9109 OXF); Benson, E., & Conolly, L. W. (Eds.). (2005). Encyclopedia of post-colonial literatures (Vol. 1). London; New York: Routledge, p. 130. (Call no.: R 820.9900914 ENC); NTU School of Humanities and Social Sciences. (2013). 2013–2014 Writers-in-residence: Kim-Cheng Boey. Retrieved 2016, September 26, from NTU School of Humanities and Social Sciences website: http://www.hss.ntu.edu.sg/Programmes/english/cw/Pages/CreativeWritingResidencies.aspx; Koh, B. S. (1995, December 7). There’s money in poetry, literature prize proves. The Straits Times, p. 3; Tom, K. (2006, August 20). Back to beginningsThe Straits Times, p. 23Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. An ROC Friend. (1987, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Hamilton, I., & Noel-Tod, J. (Eds.). (2013). Boey, Kim Cheng. In The Oxford companion to modern poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 59. (Call no.: R 821.9109 OXF)
9. Davidson, V. (1992, September 5). Place of peaceThe Straits Times, p. 13; Lim, S. (1996, November 2). Singapore: Too much presence for youngThe Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. National Book Development Council of Singapore. (2016). Singapore Literature Prize: 1995 winners. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from National Book Development Council of Singapore website: http://bookcouncil.sg/awards/singapore-literature-prize; Koh, B. S. (1995, December 7). There’s money in poetry, literature prize provesThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Poet and composer’s shining hour. (1996, August 31). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tom, K. (2006, August 20). Back to beginnings. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Creative Work Database. (2011). Works by Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2017, March 30 from Singapore Research Nexus Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences website: http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/srn/creative-works//?sort=title&d=ASC&Liew_Kai_Khiun=&author=Boey%2C+Kim+Cheng
14. Lim, S. (1996, November 2). Singapore: Too much presence for youngThe Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Brewster, A. (2009). The traveller’s dream: Nation and diaspora in the work of Boey Kim Cheng. In Gwee, L. S. (Ed.). (2009). Sharing borders: Studies in contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian literature II. Singapore: National Library Board and National Arts Council, pp. 127–131. (Call no.: RSING S820.9 SHA); Boey, K. C. (2001, April 9). Home truthsThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Poetry.SG. (2015). Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2018, June 25 from poetry.sg website: https://www.poetry.sg/browse/boey-kim-cheng/biography
17. Ho, Olivia (2017, March 13). Local poetry to be included in A-level literature. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
18. Benson, E., & Conolly, L. W. (2005). Encyclopedia of post-colonial literatures (Vol. 1). London; New York: Routledge, p. 130. (Call no.: R 820.9900914 ENC)
19. Kon, D., & Boey, K. C. (2010). A sense of questing: Kim Cheng Boey on poetry. Cerise Press1(3). Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Cerise Press website: http://www.cerisepress.com/01/03/a-sense-of-questing-kim-cheng-boey-on-poetry
20. Hamilton, I., & Noel-Tod, J. (Eds.). (2013). Boey, Kim Cheng. In The Oxford companion to modern poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 59. (Call no.: R 821.9109 OXF)
21. National Book Development Council of Singapore. (2016). Singapore Literature Prize: 1995 winners. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from National Book Development Council of Singapore website: http://bookcouncil.sg/awards/singapore-literature-prize; Koh, B. S. (1995, December 7). There’s money in poetry, literature prize provesThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Poet and composer’s shining hour. (1996, August 31). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Boey, K. C. (1989). Somewhere-bound. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S821 BOE)
24. Boey, K. C. (1992). Another place. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S821 BOE)
25. Boey, K. C. (1996). Days of no name. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S821 BOE)
26. Boey, K. C. (2006). After the fire: New and selected poems. Singapore: Firstfruits. (Call no.: RSING S821 BOE)
27. Poetry.SG. (2015) Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2018, June 25 from poetry.sg website: https://www.poetry.sg/browse/boey-kim-cheng/biography
28. Poetry.SG. (2015) Boey Kim Cheng. Retrieved 2018, June 25 from poetry.sg website: https://www.poetry.sg/browse/boey-kim-cheng/biography



The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Writers
Boey, Kim Cheng--Biography
Poets--Biography
Arts>>Literature>>English (Singapore) Literature>>Poetry
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Poetry
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors