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Moving House

Theophilus Kwek

Cover of Moving House by Theophilus Kwek
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Categories: 21st Century, BAME, British, Chinese
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2020)
£10.99 £9.89
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(Pub. Jun 2020)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • Theophilus Kwek's first UK collection is concerned with the individual and the collective stories that become history. The poems set out from formative moments in the poet's memory, to pivotal moments in the colonial past of Southeast Asia, and finally the political upheavals of the present. Hospitality, precarity, migration – these are some of the themes that recur as the poet makes his own journey from Singapore to Europe and back again.

    Moving House moves on a big time and space map, from Icelandic tales to the Malayan Emergency, and more contemporary dramas. From the perspective of a Chinese Singaporean shaped by the collective traditions and histories described in this book, writing in Britain, the poems model a sense of openness on the space of the page.
    Theophilus Kwek is a writer, editor and translator based in Singapore. Two of his previous collections of poetry were shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, while his pamphlet, The First Five Storms, won the inaugural New Poets’ Prize in 2016. Other awards include the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, the Berfrois ... read more
    'Kwek may well turn out to be one of the major poetic voices of the twenty-first century.'

    David Starkey, California Review of Books

    'Theophilus Kwek's collection dexterously intertwines macro-narratives with micronarratives. Though also bearing cross-cultural/linguistic identities, Kwek's poetic attention is more vertical than horizontal: history, both individual and collective, petite and grand, instead of identity, lies at the center of this collection.'

    Cuilin Sang, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal

    'A deeply thoughtful mapping of migration, languages, colonial histories and faith... A confident and thought-provoking collection with a richness in imagery, symbolism and language, Moving House will leave you with poignant questions about the ground beneath our feet, and the social injustices in our everyday encounters. At the same time, it reminds us of the anchors: family ties, love, and faith in humanity'

    Jennifer Wong, Poetry London

    'In Moving House, Kwek traces movements which are fundamental to the formation and evolution of countries and cultures. These are movements which inspire headlines, panel shows, and slacktivism'

     Skendha Singh, DURA Dundee

    'These poems demonstrate poetic sophistication. They are restrained and cautious, but sufficiently evocative to merit much rereading.'

    Joe Darlington, Manchester Review of Books 

    'Moving House is topical in the way it addresses the refugee and migrant crisis and other contemporary issues faced by a world in the midst of great change [...] His poetic observations and voice break through the otherwise impenetrable silences of negligence, suppression, erasure and violence [...] While these topics are heavy, Kwek's lightness of touch and his captivating language is a balm that helps readers confront these narratives of powerlessness and trauma, and his earnestness suggests that we, too, are witnesses in this world who have a part to play.'

    'These poems are polymorphous probes into memory [...] quietly accomplished lyrics and elegiacs which almost allow themselves a limpidity, almost a serenity' 

    Michael Freeman, Mekong Review 

    'His poems are keenly aware that the scariest place to exist is on the edges of a space, but the stately, serene pacing should not blind you to the keen political intelligence at work.'

     Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

    'Theophilus Kwek's poetry is striking for its assurance and control [...] this is the work of a considerable poet.'

    Kathleen McPhilemy, The High Window

    'Kwek has a keen eye for poetic rupture and moments of collision. With formal dexterity, he shifts through family history and world politics, from British colonial rule to refugee crises and a moving tribute to soldiers killed in peacetime training'
    Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin 2020
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