I’m a poet of intangible things, so my audience doesn’t quite exist; their absence is the glare from the newly minted pavement under the unbearable sun where the playground was demolished.
Infinity Diary is a love song to a man, or in the words of T. S. Eliot, ‘private words addressed to [one] in public’. Carefully structured to reflect the many ways in which love between two men can unfold, this volume of poems balances emotionality with meditations on the nature of human relationships. The poetry punctures the sometimes-oppressive reality of life in a hypermodern yet far-from-free city and, through twists and turns, ultimately lifts the reader to a place beyond pleasure and pain. Sensual, anecdotal and, of course, confessional, Infinity Diary charts an evolution in the work of one of Asia’s most intimate English-language poets.
‘Infinity Diary . . . is a distillation of years of spiritual searching, away from childhood’s homophobic Catholicism towards an adult tussle with Buddhist detachment. The search has been conducted through rigorous self-examination, writing daily. Hence the many books. Not all of them reach the same level of achievement, but the quality is consistently high. The main reason, as I see it, is that Wong does not lose sight of all the tunneling forces that sap spiritual life. The writing is urgent, because, like Wong’s practice of meditation, it enacts “rituals of survival” (“Between Infinity and You”). Infinity Diary is programmatic (a fearful word!) in that it offers a living program, the poet himself.’—PN Review
‘[A]n aggressive affirmation, an in-your-face polemic against homophobia, an enraged audit of its destructive impact in personal and broader social terms. After twenty years of poetry, fiction and translations, Wong has established his central position in queer literature, his oeuvre explicated in many an academic account and reaching an international readership well beyond its Singapore locus. . . . This is queer poetry taking a stand. At the same time, it’s a stand that widens out into philosophical and literary preoccupations.’—Michael Freeman, Mekong Review. Read the full review here (behind paywall).
‘While many poets address life’s grand themes elliptically, Wong repeatedly focuses on love and death head-on . . . Not many poets can sustain that level of intensity, let alone over the hundred and fifty pages this book contains. . . . Unusual in contemporary published poetry, Cyril Wong’s exploration of the mind and notions of self are thoroughgoing and tireless. What is more, he is unafraid to withstand real emotion as a means of seeing clearly.’—Lawrence Pettener, Asian Review of Books. Read the full review here.
‘Infinity Diary is a wonderful example of how strong and how hazardous a means poetry can be if you are a wordsmith sitting on your island (literally and figuratively) shouting your innermost across the chasm of the churning sea that is reality. . . . I loved this book, a kaleidoscope of water-color paintings of modern everyday life, of the struggles, the hurts, the questioning of a young man in a city-state that not only frowns upon his very nature and the nature of his love, but pursues it.’—Rainbow Book Reviews. Read the full review here.
Read Vivek Tejuja’s Instagram review here. And his conversation with Cyril Wong here.
‘Wong’s poetry comes from so many places, and so many emotions. They take up so much room (as they should), and they merge with your emotions as well, and that’s difficult to contain. You see yourself in them, poem after poem. You get restless. You sigh. You get twitchy and fidgety. You sigh some more. You turn the page.’—The Hungry Reader. Read the full blog here.
‘Out of the shadows Wong has fashioned exquisite poetry from alienation.’—Time (Asia)
‘Cyril Wong’s evocative and sensual poems . . . continue to pulsate long after the lights have gone out. They remind me most of the movies of Wong Kar-Wai, the consummate filmmaker of lost love and desire.’—Lewis Warsh, author of Out of the Question
‘Cyril Wong’s poems, clear as water, open our way for wonderful and strange journeys through known and unknown places, places where we feel sure of nothing yet dead sure of everything.’—Clarence Major, winner of 2016 PEN Oakland/Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award
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