Theophilus Kwek

Theophilus Kwek
b. 1994

Theophilus Kwek began writing as a student at Raffles Institution under the mentorship of Alvin Pang, Aaron Maniam and others. He has since authored three collections, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011), Circle Line (2013)—which was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2014—and Giving Ground (2016). He has also been nominated for various other awards, winning the Martin Starkie Prize in 2014, the Jane Martin Prize in 2015, and the inaugural New Poets’ Prize in 2016. His translation of Wong Yoon Wah’s poem "Moving House" was also placed Second in the Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation in 2016. 

His work has appeared in journals both in Singapore and abroad, including The Irish Examiner, Southword, The London Magazine, The North, and the Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore (QLRS). Having served as President of the Oxford University Poetry Society, he currently serves as a Co-Editor of Oxford Poetry and Features Editor of The Oxford Culture Review, and is also Chief Executive Assistant at Asymptote. In 2016 he co-founded The Kindling, an online poetry journal. 

Theophilus co-edited Flight, an anthology of poetry in response to the European refugee crisis, published by the Oxford Students’ Oxfam Group, and UnFree Verse, a forthcoming anthology of formal poetry in Singapore. His long poem, Terezin, was performed at the Oxford New Writing Festival (2016) and—adapted as a chamber opera by Daniel Bonaventure Lim—at the "Performing the Jewish Archives" project at the University of Leeds. He also wrote the libretto for This World Lousy, a new musical by Peter Shepherd which premiered in Oxford in 2016. His reviews and essays have appeared in The London Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, The Oxonian Review, The Oxford Culture Review, Mackerel, and QLRS. 

Finally, a short pamphlet of his new poetry, The First Five Storms, will be published in early 2017 by Smith | Doorstop Press in the UK. 


The First Five Storms' has remarkable range and imaginative depth, from Fibonacci to Loch na Fuaiche, from the small detail of 'thawed streams like cracks in the bone' to a panorama of the whole 'lifting land'. These are poems that excavate, honour and renew.

Helen Mort

 

The First Five Storms  

Beginning November 2015, when the UK Meteorological Office began to name its storms.

i. Abigail

We sat up late one night to watch the sky
Knowing where they slept, still, in their fury,

A den of them curled on the red-rimmed ledge
Of tomorrow’s weather. As we talked, we kept

Our predictions close: how long
Before the year’s, and our own winters would align,

Or the rest of our days reach in to join fingers
With the season’s slow dusk, and disappear.

What came afterwards, or perhaps who,
Surprised us both. It was as if they knew

Something we didn’t about earth’s velocity,
The speed of spring, time’s machine. Soon the first

Trains arrived at King’s Cross with Berwick’s rain.
It was then that we learnt to give them names.

Titles by this author

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