REVIEW: Chasing Curtained Suns

Law student by day, world published poet by night! Laura Piccirillo dives into the rich first collection of poems by UCL’s very own Jerrold Yam.

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Last month, while revelling in the hipster paradise that was the Open Mic Night for the Writer’s Society, I was fortunate to meet one of our artistic hidden gems, a certain Jerrold Yam.

Quasi super hero-like with a double identity, Jerrold is not only a UCL law fresher but also a fully published poet in his native Singapore (jealous much of his achievements?) Published worldwide with a series of prizes and prestigious acknowledgments under his metaphoric poetic belt including first prize in the National University of Singapore’s Creative Writing Competition in 2011, a feature in the Singapore Memory Project, and of course most importantly The Tab (we are going up in the world people…), ‘Chasing Curtained Suns’ is Yam’s exciting first collection of poetry reacting to the formidable shift from adolescence to adulthood.

Undoubtedly a personal reflection as well as a collection with universal reach, ‘Chasing Curtained Suns’ is an exploration of a wide range of subjects, through which Yam’s beautifully simple lyricism yet imagery complex poems talk us through the awkwardly menacing and rousing experiences of growing up against the backdrop of a changing, modern Singapore. With a profound ability to paint a picture through his honest and well-considered words, Yam provides a mature insight into the trials and tribulations of life and how one can cope with moving on, letting go and leaving behind.

A few personal favourites among the many favourites of mine (ahem i.e. the whole collection), were the cathartic ‘Confessional’ and ‘Child’s Play’, invoking the innocence and nostalgia of childhood from the Prodigal section of the collection, as well as the strikingly cynical and truthful ‘Collars full of stretch marks’, part of Breaking/Entering and the ‘Things we mistake for vows’ an ingenious reworking of lyrics from the song ‘Young Blood’ by punk-revival band, The Naked and Famous.

While you may not understand the cultural significance of some of Mr Yam’s works, it does not mean you cannot enjoy the subtleties and lose yourself in the graceful romanticism of his words.

So look out for our Mr Yam folks as you peruse the up and coming poets of Gower Street’s Waterstones, and a note to you too Jerrold to remember us little people when you’re the future poet laureate – we at The Tab loved you first!