Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé brought Singapore the gold in Poetry World Cup 2014, organized by The Missing Slate. In what organizer Jacob Silkstone called “an absolutely epic World Cup final,” Singapore won, with 1295 votes against Pakistan’s 1270. The margin was 25 votes. Of his win, Desmond was quoted in Kitaab.org as saying, “We’re all winners in this game. All of us who participated and joined in the fun. It’s a game of appreciation. Of appreciating one another’s wordsmithery, and each of our poems. These poems are no less than gifts to the reader.”
This month, Desmond will have a new poetry collection out: I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist (Math Paper Press). Distinguished poet and critic John Wilkinson has this to say: “The crystalline structures of I Didn’t Know Mani Was a Conceptualist precipitate out of Eastern and Western religious and philosophical texts, out of tantra, science fiction, cinema, high art, collage and low camp, out of Singapore, China, Europe and the United States. Beaded through this book, Desmond Kon’s crystals glitter instructively ‘like angels hanging onto tiaras.’ Both elegant and extravagant, they thread suspended between prose poem and multiplex narrative, a cubist’s sphere.”
At the Singapore Writers Festival this year, Desmond will also be launching his novel, Singular Acts of Endearment, penned during his writing residency at Gardens by the Bay. The epistolary novel is narrated by the Jewish-Chinese Jasmine, who has to come to terms with her grandfather’s struggle with cancer. Advance praise from novelist Valerie Sayers has been glowing: “Singular Acts of Endearment is utterly engrossing…It is simultaneously lament and celebration, formal exercise and freeform improvisation: it is exhilarating.”
Desmond is also the editor of the “Eye Feel Write” special program at the Festival. Commissioned by the National Arts Council of Singapore, the program has invited ten writers—including Robin Hemley, Joshua Ip, Isa Kamari, Alvin Pang, Tan Chee Lay, Jollin Tan, Edwin Thumboo, Ramanathan Vairavan, Yeow Kai Chai, and Ovidia Yu—to write ekphrastic responses to ten artworks exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum’s “Medium At Large” exhibition.