Alvin Pang


Alvin Pang (b. 1972, Singapore - ) is considered one of a new breed of young Singapore poets emerging in the 1990s. These new poets include Felix Cheong, Alfian Saat, Toh Hsien Min and Cyril Wong. Pang's publications include two collections of poetry, Testing the Silence and City of Rain. His poems are characterised as being urban, cosmopolitan yet intimate in nature. Pang is the founder and webmaster of online literary websites such as The Poetry Billboard ( and the Literary Singapore ( that showcase Singapore literature.

Early life
Born in 1972, Alvin Pang was raised by his Teochew grandparents, as both his parents were busy working. His father was a teacher and his mother a secretary. Left mainly on his own, Pang occupied his time with writing, drawing and reading. He excelled in his studies and was admitted to the distinguished Raffles Institution, his father's alma mater. There, Pang studied literature and wrote his first poem at the age of 13.


Pang won a scholarship at pre-university, furthering his studies in the humanities at Raffles Junior College. Upon completing his A-levels, Pang received a Public Service Commission (PSC) teaching scholarship to study abroad at York University in the UK. It had been Pang's desire to study abroad as he wanted to experience a different culture and lifestyle. During the course of his English Language and Literature undergraduate programme, Pang was inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney and Wallace Stevens. It was here that Pang met his wife, a fellow PSC scholar who was also studying Language and Literature.

After graduating with first class honours in literature in 1994, Pang returned to Singapore to begin his teaching career, first at Raffles Institution and later at Raffles Junior College. Pang is not a full-time poet, making a living at various times as a teacher, columnist, book editor and webmaster. In his capacity as webmaster, Pang has been instrumental in founding and maintaining online poetry and literary websites aimed at promoting Singapore's literature, such as The Poetry Billboard and the Literary Singapore.

Pang's poems were first featured in an anthology of poetry, In Search of Words, along with four of his contemporaries' (Jeffrey Lim, Aaron Lee, Tong Jo-tsze, Kuan Wei Han) poems. Since then, his poems have been featured in local and international poetry books, newspapers and journals, such as Paper Tiger (Australia), English Review (UK), Interlogue: Studies in Singapore Literature and Rhythms: a Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry.

Pang has represented Singapore in international literary forums, conferences and seminars. For instance, in 2002, he was chosen to attend and was conferred honorary fellowship at the University of Iowa's International Writing Programme. That same year he was also the featured poet in the highly regarded Atlanta Review. He was a representative of Singaporean poets to Australia in 2001 and the Austin International Poetry Festival in 2002. In 2003, he was an invited poet at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. In 2004, he was one of six Singaporean writers to be invited to attend the Citigroup Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival, Malaysia. Pang has also been on the organising committees of literary events in Singapore, such as The Singapore Writers' Festival in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003. More recently, he was a founding organiser of Wordfeast, the first international poetry festival in Singapore in January 2004.

"I always want to diverge and bloom and expand ideas, and it becomes too much to manage. You can do that with poetry with few words, and sometimes, the fewer the words, the broader the ideas actually."

"The creation of a book is a dynamic, fluid and collaborative process. It's not just your baby now: you're giving it to the public to adopt."

1991 : Poems first published in In Search of Words, and Crystal is Waiting
1996 : Founder-editor of The Poetry Billboard, an online poetry anthology site that has won several web awards, at
1996 : Founder-editor of The Literary Singapore, an online literature forum/ new site, at
1997 : Straits Times' Top Ten Books for 1997, for Testing the Silence
1997 : Shortlisted for National Book Development Council (NBDCS) Book Award, for Testing the Silence
2000 : Straits Times' Top Ten Books for 2000, for No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry
2001 : Represented Singapore at the 12th Tri-Annual Association of Commonwealth Literary and Language Studies Conference, Canberra, Australia. Participated in poetry-reading tour of three other Australian cities: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney
2002 : Honorary Fellowship in Writing, International Writing Programme, University of Iowa
2002 : Featured poet in Atlanta Review, USA, which had previously profiled Nobel Prize poet laureates
such as Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott
2003 : Participated at Edinburgh Books Festival, which is currently the biggest literary festival in the world, with over 600 programmes offered in a span of 2 1/2 weeks
Jan 2004 : Organiser of Wordfeast, Singapore's first international poetry festival
Jul - Aug 2004 : Invited international writer, Citigroup Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival, Malaysia

Collection of poetry
1997 : Testing The Silence
2003 : City of Rain

2000 : Co-editor, No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry
2000 : Poetry editor, Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry
2002 : Co-editor, Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry Anthology

Nureza Ahmad


Klein, Ronald D. (ed) (2001). Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature, vol.4 : interviews (pp. 338-381). Singapore: Ethos Books.
(Call no.: SING 809.895957 INT)

Au Yong, E. (2001, June 23). Writers go Down Under. The Straits Times.

Chiam, C. (2002, June 1). Spring issue is sprung. The Straits Times.

Chow, C. (2003, 24 May). Its EZ on the eye. The Straits Times

Gwee, L. S. (1998, December 12). Review- poet verses poet - his hook catches like blind fist. The Straits Times.

Ong, S. F. (1997, September 6). Writing poetry pays..but not much. The Straits Times.

Ong, S. F. (1998, October 3). Young poets society - theres rhyme and reason. The Straits Times.

Ong, S. F. (2002, January 30). A love affair that crossed borders. The Straits Times.

Ong, S. F. (2002, May 11). City lights beckon poets. The Straits Times

Ong, S. F. (2003, August 16). Spore poets debut at Edinburgh Books Festival. The Straits Times.

Further Readings
Jeyam, L. (2003, November 12). Poets for the millennium. The New Straits Times

Ong, S. F. (2004, January 3). Novel year for graphic language. The Straits Times.

Channel News Asia (2004). Food for thought: its a literal pairing at Singapores first international festival. Retrieved July 26, 2004, from

National Book Council Development of Singapore (200?). Singapore writers: Alvin Pang. Retrieved July 26, 2004, from

The Poetry Billboard (2004). Alvin Pang. Retrieved July 26, 2004, from

Poetry Society News (2004). Poetry in Singapore. Retrieved July 26, 2004, from

Singapore International Foundation. (2004). Singapore Internationale recipients - past and present recipients. The Literary Centre. Retrieved July 26, 2004, from

Tay, E. (2002, April). On writing poetry in Singapore. Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, 1(3). Retrieved July 26, 2004, from 

The information in this article is valid as at 2004 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.

Authors, Singaporean--Biography
Pang, Alvin, 1972- --Biography
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature

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