Alvin Pang



Alvin Pang (b. 1972, Singapore–) is considered as part of a new breed of young Singapore poets that emerged in the 1990s.1 These new poets include Felix Cheong, Alfian Sa’at, Toh Hsien Min and Cyril Wong.2 Pang’s publications include two collections of poetry, Testing the Silence and City of Rain.3 His poems are characterised as urban and cosmopolitan yet intimate in nature. Pang is the founder and webmaster of The Poetry Billboard, an online literary website that showcases Singapore literature.4

Early life
Born in 1972, Pang was raised by his Teochew grandparents, as both his parents were 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 Raffles Institution, his father’s alma mater. There, Pang studied literature and wrote his first poem at the age of 13.5


Education

Pang won a scholarship for his pre-university studies and pursued a course of study in the humanities at Raffles Junior College. Upon completing his GCE “A” Levels, Pang received a Public Service Commission (PSC) teaching scholarship to study at York University in the United Kingdom. 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 at York, Pang was inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney and Wallace Stevens. It was there that Pang met his wife, a fellow PSC scholar who was also studying language and literature.6 

Career
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 Raffles Junior College. Today, Pang is a full-time poet, besides also working as a teacher, columnist, book editor and webmaster. He was instrumental in founding and maintaining the online poetry and literary website, The Poetry Billboard, aimed at promoting Singapore literature.7 

Achievements

Pang’s poems were first featured in an anthology of poetry, In Search of Words, along with the poems of four of his contemporaries – Jeffrey Lim, Aaron Lee, Tong Jo-tsze and Kuan Wei Han. Since then, his poems have been featured in Singapore 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.8

Pang has represented Singapore at international literary forums, conferences and seminars. For instance, in 2002, he was chosen to attend the University of Iowa’s International Writing Programme, where he was conferred an honorary fellowship in Writing.9 That same year he was the featured poet in the highly regarded Atlanta Review. He represented Singaporean poets to Australia in 2001 and at the Austin International Poetry Festival in 2002.10 In 2003, he was an invited poet at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.11 In 2004, he was one of the Singaporean writers invited to attend the Citigroup Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival, Malaysia.12

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. In January 2004, he was a founding organiser of Wordfeast, the first international poetry festival in Singapore.13

Awards/honours
1991: Poems first published in In Search of Words,14 and Crystal is Waiting.15
1996: Founder-editor of The Poetry Billboard, an online poetry anthology site that has won several web awards.16
1997: Testing the Silence is shortlisted for The Straits Times’ Top Ten Books for 199717 and for the National Book Development Council (NBDCS) Book Award.18
2000: No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry is shortlisted for The Straits Times’ Top Ten Books for 2000.19

2001: Represents Singapore at the 12th Tri-Annual Association of Commonwealth Literary and Language Studies Conference in Canberra, Australia and also participates in a poetry-reading tour of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.20
2002: Awarded an honorary fellowship in Writing at the International Writing Programme, University of Iowa.21 Featured poet in Atlanta Review, USA, which had previously profiled Nobel Prize poet laureates such as Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott.22

2003: Participates in the Edinburgh Books Festival, the world’s largest literary festival.23
Jan 2004: Organises Wordfeast, Singapore’s first international poetry festival.24
Jul–Aug 2004: Invited international writer, Citigroup Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival, Malaysia.25

Works
Collection of poetry
1997: Testing the Silence.26
2003: City of Rain.27

Editorial
2000: Co-editor, No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry28 / Poetry editor, Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry.29
2
002: Co-editor, Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry Anthology.30



Author
Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Hamilton, I., & Noel-Tod, J. (Eds.). (2013). The Oxford companion to modern poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 468. (Call no.: R 821.9109 OXF)
2.
Ong, S. F. (2002, May 11). City lights beckon poets. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3.
Poetry.SG. (2015). Alvin Pang: Selected publications. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from Poetry.SG website: https://poetry.sg/browse/alvin-pang/selected-publications; Gwee, L. S. (1998, December 12). His hook catches words like blind fishThe Straits Times, p. 17; Chew, D. (2004, October 11). From thought to poem. Today, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4.
Post-colonial Web. (2003). Alvin Pang: Biography and brief introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Post-colonial Web website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/poetry/pang/bio1.html
5.
Klein, R. D. (Ed.). (2001). Interviews. In Singh, K. (Ed.), Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature (Vol. 4). Singapore: Ethos Books, pp. 338—381. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT); Australian Poetry, & Pang, A. (2012, October 18). Australian poetry journal spotlight poet. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Australian Poetry website: http://www.australianpoetry.org/misc/australian-poetry-journal-spotlight-poet/
6.
Klein, R. D. (Ed.). (2001). Interviews. In Singh, K. (Ed.), Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature (Vol. 4). Singapore: Ethos Books., pp. 338—381. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT); Australian Poetry, & Pang, A. (2012, October 18). Australian poetry journal spotlight poet. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Australian Poetry website: http://www.australianpoetry.org/misc/australian-poetry-journal-spotlight-poet/; Wong, P. P. (2012). Alvin Pang interview. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Banana Writers website: http://www.bananawriters.com/alvinpang
7.
Teo, Y. (2016, August 19). An Interview with Alvin Pang: Finding the liminal spaces in Singaporean writing. Wasafiri, 31(3), 59–65. Retrieved from Taylor & Francis Online website: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02690055.2016.1182280?journalCode=rwas20; SG50 arts: The sum of us: Alvin Pang. (2015). Rafflesian Times, (5). Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Rafflesian Times website: https://issuu.com/ripub/docs/rafflesian_times_issue_5; Pang, A. (2004). City of rain. In F. Cheong (Ed.), Idea to ideal: 12 Singapore poets on the writing of their poems. Singapore: Firstfruits Publications, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING S821.009 IDE)
8.
Wong, P. P. (2012). Alvin Pang Interview. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Banana Writers website: http://www.bananawriters.com/alvinpang; Post-colonial Web. (2003). Alvin Pang: Biography and brief introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Post-colonial Web website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/poetry/pang/bio1.html
9.
Leong, L. G. (Ed.). (2011). Alvin Pang. In Literary Singapore: A directory of contemporary writing in Singapore. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 41. (Call no.: RSING: 809.895957 LIT); Pang, A. (2004). City of rain. In F. Cheong (Ed.), Idea to ideal: 12 Singapore poets on the writing of their poems. Singapore: Firstfruits Publications, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING S821.009 IDE)
10.
Au Yong, E. (2001, June 23). Writers go Down Under. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Post-colonial Web. (2003). Alvin Pang: Biography and brief introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Post-colonial Web website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/poetry/pang/bio1.html
11.
Ong, S. F. (2003, August 16). S’pore poets debut at Edinburgh Books Festival. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12.
National Arts Council. (2004, July 7). Singapore traditional arts group and writers in overseas showcases [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/media-resources/press-releases/Singapore-Traditional-Arts-Group-and-Writers.html
13.
Cheong, F. (2004, January 15). Food for thought. Today, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14.
Wong, P.P. (2012). Alvin Pang Interview. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Banana Writers website: http://www.bananawriters.com/alvinpang; Pugalenthi. (Ed.). (1991). In search of words. Singapore: VJ Times. (Call no.: RSING S821 IN)
15.
Crystal is waiting. (1991). Singapore: VJ Times. (Call no.: RSING S823 CRY)
16.
Post-colonial Web. (2003). Alvin Pang: Biography and brief introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Post-colonial Web website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/poetry/pang/bio1.html
17.
Ong, S. F. (1997, December 27). Jesus’ 40 days of temptation is top draw. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18.
National Arts Council. (2015). Artists’ and writers’ biodata: Project Lava. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/singaporeartsscene/literaryarts/Project-LAVA.html
19.
Ong, S. F. (2001, January 6). Tales which went down well. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20.
Au Yong, E. (2001, June 23). Writers go Down Under. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21.
Leong, L. G. (Ed.). (2011). Alvin Pang. In Literary Singapore: A directory of contemporary writing in Singapore. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 41. (Call no.: RSING: 809.895957 LIT); Pang, A. (2004). City of rain. In F. Cheong (Ed.), Idea to ideal: 12 Singapore poets on the writing of their poems. Singapore: Firstfruits Publications, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING S821.009 IDE)
22.
Post-colonial Web. (2003). Alvin Pang: Biography and brief introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 24 from Post-colonial Web website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/poetry/pang/bio1.html
23.
Ong, S. F. (2003, August 16). S’pore poets debut at Edinburgh Books Festival. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24.
Cheong, F. (2004, January 15). Food for thought. Today, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25.
National Arts Council. (2004, July 7). Singapore traditional arts group and writers in overseas showcases [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/media-resources/press-releases/Singapore-Traditional-Arts-Group-and-Writers.html
26.
Pang, A. (1997). Testing the silence: Poems. Singapore: Ethos Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 PAN)
27.
Pang, A. (2003). City of rain. Singapore: Ethos Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 PAN)
28.
Pang, A., & Lee, A. (Eds.). (2000). No other city: The ethos anthology of urban poetry. Singapore: Ethos Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 NO)
29.
Singh, K., & Wong, Y. W. (Eds.). (2000). Rhythms: A Singapore millennial anthology of poetry. Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING S821 RHY)
30.
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)



Further resources

Channel News Asia. (2004). Food for thought: It’s a literal pairing at Singapore’s first international festival. Retrieved 2004, July 26 from Channel News Asia website: www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/entertainment/view/66393/1/.html

Ong, S. F. (1998, October 3). There’s rhyme and reason. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Ong, S. F. (2004, January 3). Novel year for graphic languageThe Straits Times, p. L12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Poetry Society News. (2004). Poetry in Singapore. Retrieved 2004, July 26 from Poetry Society News website: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/news/singap.htm

Singapore International Foundation. (2004). Singapore Internationale recipients – past and present recipients. The Literary Centre. Retrieved 2004, July 26 from Singapore International Foundation website: www.sif.org.sg/fos/sirecipients.html

Tay, E. (2002, April). On writing poetry in Singapore. Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, 1(3). Retrieved 2004, July 26 from Quarterly Literary Review Singapore website: www.qlrs.com/issues/apr2002/interviews/apysh.html 

The Poetry Billboard. (2004). Alvin Pang. Retrieved 2004, July 26 from The Poetry Billboard website: www.poetrybillboard.com/authorview.asp?aid=6



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.


 

Subject
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Poets--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors
Pang, Alvin, 1972- --Biography
Authors, Singaporean--Biography
Writers