Gwee Li Sui

by Chua, Alvin

Gwee Li Sui (b. 22 August 1970, Singapore–) is a poet, graphic artist and literary critic. Formerly an academic at the National University of Singapore (NUS), he has lectured as well as published verses and books on a range of cultural subjects. His works include the graphic novel Myth of the Stone (1993) and the collection of poems Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998).1 

Gwee holds a doctorate from Queen Mary, University of London, and specialises in 18th-century English literature, philosophy and science.2

Academic career

Gwee was formerly an assistant professor at the Department of English Language and Literature at NUS. He taught various courses on introductory world literature, 18th-century fiction, poetry, literary criticism and film criticism.

Apart from English literature, philosophy and science, Gwee’s other research interests include British and German romanticism, modern German literature, Singapore literature as well as Reformation and modern theology.4

Literary career 
Gwee’s poems, fiction, academic writing and graphic art have been published in various media. He has also reviewed literature for The Straits Times, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and various journals.5

Gwee’s poems have been anthologised in collections such as Rhythms: A Singapore Millennial Anthology of PoetryNo Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry; and Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry.6 His poetry has also been published on a number of websites, including Mascara Literary Review and online poetry journal Softblow.7

Gwee’s first published work, the graphic novel Myth of the Stone, was released in 1993. He issued his first collection of poems, Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems?, in 1998. Themes in this volume, which references notable Singapore poets, include reflections on Singaporean culture and identity.8

He also contributed chapters to Postcolonial Cultures and Literatures: Modernity and the (Un)Commonwealth and Alchemization of the Mind: Literature and Dissociation, as well as an entry in Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760–1850.9

Gwee cites the book Shui Hu Zhuan (Outlaws of the Marsh) and John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost as being very important to him.10 He was on the 2008 panel of judges for the Singapore Literature Prize for English, and was also an adviser to the Literary Society at NUS.11

AWARE controversy
In 2009, Gwee wrote “Christians Against AWARE Takeover”, a commentary that highlighted the controversial attempt by a group of Christians to take over the leadership of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). Widely circulated on the Internet, the article articulated his opinion as a Christian that religion should not have a role in secular organisations.12

1993: Myth of the Stone13
1998: Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems?14


Alvin Chua & Joanna HS Tan

Poetry.SG. (2015). About Gwee Li Sui. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Poetry.SG website:
Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. (2016). Gwee Li Sui: QLRS contributors. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Quarterly Literary Review Singapore website:
Nanda, A. (2013, October 6). Bookends: Gwee Li Sui. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Gwee, L. S. (Ed.). (2009). Sharing borders: Studies in contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian literature II. Singapore: National Library Board and National Arts Council, p. 261. (Call no.: RSING S820.9 SHA); The Kent Ridge Common. (2009). Upfront with Dr Gwee Li Sui. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from The Kent Ridge Common website:
Gwee, L. S. (2003, March 28). Art – A war fugitive that returns to hauntThe Straits Times, p. 25; Gifts of verse. (1998, December 13). The Straits Times, p.4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. (2016). Gwee Li Sui: QLRS contributors. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Quarterly Literary Review Singapore website:; Post-colonial Web. (2002.) Gwee Li Sui: A biographical introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Post-colonial Web website:
Singh, K., & Wong, Y. W. (Eds.). (2000). Rhythms: A Singapore millennial anthology of poetry. Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING S821 RHY); Pang, A., & Lee, A. (Eds.). (2000). No other city: The ethos anthology of urban poetry. Singapore: Ethos Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 NO); Sunico, R. C., et al. (Eds.). (2002). Love gathers all: The Philippines-Singapore anthology of love poetry. Singapore & Manila: Ethos Books & Anvil Pub. (Call no.: RSING 821.00803543 LOV)
Mascara Literary Review. (2011). Gwee Li Sui. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Mascara Literary Review website:; Softblow. (2013). Gwee Li Sui. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Softblow website:
Ong, S. F. (1998, October 3). Young poets’ society – There’s rhyme and reasonThe Straits Times, p. 2; Pang, A. (1998, December 12). Excue me, I’m tue kiasue to queue in this haikuThe Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Gwee, L. S. (2002). The religion of the English Bible: From Wycliffe to James I. In A. Benjamin, et al. (Eds.), Postcolonial cultures and literatures: Modernity and the (Un)Commonwealth (pp. 244–260). New York: P. Lang. (Not available in NLB holdings); Gwee, L. S. (2003). Apocalypse and apocatastasis: Perhaps, the reformation according to Adolf von Harnack. In Z. Bialas, et al. (Eds.). Alchemization of the mind: Literature and dissociation. Frankfurt: P. Lang. (Not available in NLB holdings); Gwee, L. S. (2004). David Friedrich Strauss, 1808–1874. In C. J. Murray (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760–1850. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, pp. 209–210, 632–634, 652–653, 670–672, 1000–1003, 1097–1099. (Call no.: RART q700.414503 ENC)
Quek, E. (2005, August 28). BookendsThe Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
SSA1207FC: Nationality, identity and Singaporean literature. (2014). List of writers: Gwee Li Sui. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from SSA1207FC: Nationality, Identity and Singaporean Literature website:
Au Yong. J., Zakir Hussain., & Low, A. (2009, May 2). Should faith-driven groups take over secular organisations? The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Gwee, L. S. (1993). Myth of the stone. Singapore: East Asia Book Services. (Call no.: RART 741.595957 GWE)
Gwee, L. S. (1998). Who wants to buy a book of poems? Singapore: Landmark Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 GWE)

Further resources
Gwee, L. S. (2005). Poetry and the renaissance machine in Singapore. Harvard Asia Quarterly. Retrieved 2017, January 26 from website:

Gwee, L. S. (2008). The road people: Poetry and urban (im)mobility in Singapore. Asiatic IIUM journal of English language and literature, 2(2). Retrieved 2017, January 26 from the Asiatic IIUM journal website:

The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Gwee, Li Sui, 1970-