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"An extraordinary poet of dark verse."
"Pithy and evocative."
"A great poet. Gritty and sharp."
"Christina Sng is a contemporary poet who captures both the wonder of things that might come to pass through exploration and also creates genuinely atmospheric horror poetry. When reading her work, you feel as though you are viewing wonders or horrors through her eyes."
"Many acclaimed writers frequent this publication, including Kurt Newton, Scott Nicholson, Monica O'Rourke and Christina Sng, all in this current issue. These are familiar names in the horror genre and for good reason, as they are talented and popular, their work quickly identifying them as respected authors, published in many markets and moving forward with dedication and confident writing."
"A woman moves into an apartment that has a window that opens on a brick wall. She keeps it closed but her daughter opens it to let Kitty out. Things begin to get strange and this has a real sting at the end. Perfectly done!"
"This is a strange and rather chilling flash about death and walls and while it confuses me only a little it also gets under my skin to some extent. In it a mother and daughter live in an apartment with a window that opens to a brick wall. The daughter keeps opening the door for their cat, who died in a car crash that also took the life of the girl's father. A crash that seems to have been the mother's fault. And the guilt and loss come to a head as the woman finds that her daughter is missing, as she finds that her husband isn't quite as gone as she thought, as she finds that things might not have happened the way she remembers. To me, this is a story about the power of grief and guilt.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW because I want to talk about the ending, the twist, etc.
So to me the story takes place in a moment in time when the woman, looking for an apartment after the death of her husband, cat, and child in a crash that was her fault, sees this closed window. The rest is fabricated in her mind, her daughter still alive, the ghost cat, the conversation with her daughter. All of that happens in her mind and she lives it all in that moment, the loss of her daughter again, and she breaks from it. That would explain the agent behind her at the end, that she's not moving out but out and looking for a place to live, not that her dead husband has rewritten time but that she had this vision of what she wanted to have happened and has to deal with reality and can't quite. All from that image of the window and brick wall, that idea that she's bricked away her own feelings but there is keeping them out.
A nice and creepy story, though one that might require a bit more unpacking than others. Still, I enjoyed it. Indeed!"
"Christina Sng's skill with short form poetry shimmers forth in "Ghost Month". Like traditional haiku, the poem reflects upon the natural world, obliquely evoking emotion or insight. Yet "Ghost Month" slips easily between the natural and the supernatural -- a lovely vein of magical realism which accepts spirits as part of the everyday landscape -- at least for the duration of "the ghost month".
I was particularly taken with the atmospheric quality of these five concise couplets, with their gentle rhymes. Like spectral offerings, the effect is haunting and enduringly satisfying."
-- Shannon Connor Winward, Poet, on Ghost Month which originally appeared in Space and Time, and most recently reprinted in Eye to the Telescope.
This is a brightly imaginative piece that looks at life in a rather interesting location: the Red Spot of Jupiter. Or, I guess, some other Red Spot, but I at least firmly read the piece as taking place in the mysterious storm of Jupiter's most famous region. That here are creatures living as a sort of flock or, perhaps more accurately, like a school of fish, spinning so fast that they cannot easily be caught. At the same time, the poem seems to speak toward similar storms on Earth, or at least similar schools. At least for me it reminded me of the state of our oceans, the destruction of ecosystems. In the poem the decline of the situation isn't necessarily pinpointed as climate change or what but it's from the point of view of something entirely inside the storm, riding this small window that for many on Earth is quickly shrinking. And the leviathans that are lurking in the poem can be like those lurking for us, not physical so much as metaphoric because it means the same thing. Extinction. And that's a big message, tying the storm creatures of the poems to the fish of the sea to us, all of us facing the same threat, only that the fish and the creatures don't really know why the storm is growing smaller, why they're dying out. And we don't have that excuse. A really great poem that I definitely recommend!
This was another stand out issue by Apex. I have to say that the poetry was amazing. The Perfect Planet by Christina Sng was absolutely gorgeous. I could read it over and over again.
This poem is a nice tour of worlds unknown, worlds that, like our own, support life and could support human life, in theory at least. It's a poem that explores a popular theme in science fiction, which is to say the idea of humans leaving a dying Earth and setting out to other worlds. Only…only those others worlds that could support us are already supporting life, and the poem explores the idea that those native organisms deserve a chance to evolve more than we deserve a new place to live. It's a classic idea that's handled quite well, the decision at the end (which I will not spoil) completely in line with the rest of the images presented. I like the way it draws that parallel between desolation and lush vibrancy. I also love how it reminds me of Independence Day and, more specifically, the aliens that survive by sucking up all the natural resources they encounter. The poem makes a sort of point about that, about how we view other world and in some ways how we view our own, how we've envisioned meeting with aliens bent on taking our land. It's an interesting poem with a great sense of wonder and space and possibility, but also a weight of reality and a refusal to escape from a difficult truth. A fine way to close out the issue!
"There is always a moment in poems like this where I feel like a child, clapping and pointing and saying "I get it! I get it!" Which is always a slightly embarrassing moment for me because it probably shouldn't make me like a poem more. Like that moment in Avengers when Captain America gets the Wizard of Oz reference. All of this to say that this poem seems to be using War of the Worlds to tell a wickedly dark tale that reverses the meaning of that work. And, if that's the case, the poem works beautifully. Even without that extra layer of context, I think the idea of aliens invading earth and succumbing to Earth sickness is common enough that it doesn't need a specific reference. The idea here being [SPOILERS?] the aliens that die from human sickness were meant to do just that, were meant to die and be left behind, with the knowledge that humans would not just leave them. It's a great moment when the original message, which is that Earth is protected by God, is turned on its head, making the human tendency to poke and prod and revel in this unearned victory unleashes the true attack. It's a great twist, one that makes the original story not about human resilience but human foolishness. That believing too much in that superiority, that invincibility, in the end causes the fall, causes the loss of Earth, the loss of everything. From bright gain to crushing loss, the poem is short, three line stanzas that offer short ideas, clear images that provide the great moment where everything goes to hell, that lingers on the final lines which are powerful and dark and so good."
"Among poems my absolute favourite is Broken by Christina Sng, concise but telling, without one only first person.
Perhaps more than a reader find it foregone as with purport and symbology, however I think it is extremely hard for poetry to treat opinable musings about love without becoming trivial.
Ms Sng plainly succeeds in it and in telling her truth on betrayed love never using ‘I' or ‘me'. A sample of what I call ‘statement poetry', delicate and all the same effective.
My compliments to the poetess and also to the editor who's taken her work."
-- Alessio Zanelli, Poet on Broken which appeared in The Journal #2 in the UK
"Christina Sng's poem, Phoenix Rise and Fall, was subtle and mysterious, an effective and engaging narrative. While serious, its imagery pulls one back again and again to certain passages that combine words in a contradictory and original vision that twists the heart.
A poet must, first of all, be an entertainer, and Ms. Sng entertains quite well in a variety of voices and styles. This particular poem has tremendous emotional impact by being both cool and fiery. Ms. Sng has a gift, and she makes her mastery of that gift look easy. Ultimately, all one can say to her is, Thank you."
-- Suellen Luwish, Poet
"There's real horror in Christina Sng's Ebola Virus."
-- Eric Ratcliffe, New Hope International Review Online
"The images in Pumpkin Girl were startling and perfect for Halloween, and Postwar -- very poignant."
-- Linda Addison, poet and editor of Space & Time
Review -- The Darkside of Eden
You never quite know where you will end up with a chapbook of poetry. I've thought this time and again with the poetry submissions to The Swamp; I'm never quite sure where the poem is going. However, I'm not often as pleasantly surprised at the end of it as I am with Sng's work, The Darkside of Eden.
I came to this work expecting a lot of dark prose-like poetry, goth-like themes and, in general, same old, same old. What I found was a sometime humorous, very thought-provoking, often feminist, engaging chapbook. Yes, there are dark pieces but these have much more content and depth than I've yet to see in the genre.
One of my biggest complaints of current poetry is the lack of new imagery, the fear to take on new themes in new ways. Sng does this is the most engaging way. My two favourites, A Mosquito's Tale and Ebola Virus switch perspectives, leaving us with a new way of thinking of disease and disease carriers, but speaking as well to larger discourse on social interactions.
I was also stunned (and dare I say, elated) at the feminist themes running through the chapbook. In The Path, Sng explores single-motherhood in a piece filled with desolation, emptiness and emotional anguish. It is beautiful and so very true. I read in Pumpkin Girl a continuation of the child from The Path, growing now with the strength of the mother who carried her in The Path. Sng also looks at relationships from a source of strength, even in the face of pain and suffering. My particular favourites are Fed to Her and Confession. She writes outstanding break-up poetry, with just the right amount of pride, bitterness and turn of the knife. Brilliant.
I could go on but that would take away from your reading time of the book. I am, quite honesty, elated that Christina Sng has written these works, particularly if it hints at some of the directions new poets are taking.
Review of The Darkside of Eden
Singapore's Christina Sng writes dark verse. While I have seen her work in such distributed titles as Space and Time, among those sci-fi, fantasy and horror periodicals not carried in stores, such as Wicked Hollow and Hadrosaur Tales, it seems difficult to pick one up without coming across her name.
Lately she has been involved with Allegra Press in Singapore, with her own magazine, Macabre, in addition to the femme fatale anthology Wicked Little Girls. The Darkside of Eden is a collection of this prolific scribe's work, and includes 18 poems, all but "Succubus" previously published. Devoid of interior illustration, it is, like all the Allegra titles, sturdily put together and easy-to-read, with all Ps and Qs in place.
The opening piece, "They Do Not Sleep," first appeared in the small press mag Flesh and Blood in 2002. Do you remember, as a kid, dreading waking up and having to go down a long, dark hallway by yourself to use the bathroom? I was a midnight sprinter myself, and "Sleep" concerns the spooks who insinuate themselves into our subconscious as we dream, peer around from partially open doors when we're not looking, and so on. Clever and spooky, the coolest grandmother might keep this one up her sleeve for Halloween or a summer night sleepover.
"Inside," which appeared in Black Petals in 2002, seems to document Sng's fascination with the inner workings of a fellow dark soul, ending with: "With time / I will unravel your puzzle, / Unlock the source / Of your dark inclinations, / Tip the scales / Of your volatile mind, / Turn it counterclockwise / And watch you unwind."
"Shroud," which first appeared in something called Frisson: Disconcerting Verse, also in 2002, seems to be a visceral meditation on vampirism, followed with "Fed to Her," (Southern Gothic, 2001) in a similar vein but more from the standpoint of lending new metaphorical meaning to the concept of wounded betrayal in the romantic arena.
"Cocoon" is an enigmatic piece, which first saw print in The Edge, Tales of Suspense in 2001, climaxing nicely with "Yet you left me drifting / In the sand dunes, / Parched and dried, my skin / Unfolding in the lacerating wind. / When the dusk finally falls, / I rustle softly as I pass you, / Standing proud in the dust."
"Succubus" is a three-part poem, which occupies four pages and is composed in three-line stanzas reminiscent of the renga tradition, in which several poets would contribute verses for a 100-stanza poem. Kicking off with "You have risen in several forms. / A speck in someone's eye, / a painful, annoying zit," "Succubus" takes off from there in a rather free-wheeling expression of dark thoughts.
Christina Sng's poetry, by turns morose, beautiful, and mysterious, is always as dark as Jagermeister or a cup of joe not compromised by sugar or cream. This is a signed limited edition with a press run of 200 of which Sng was good enough to honor me with the 101st copy, so Eden may no longer be available. If they've already sold out of this one, keep tabs on when the next such collector's item is due for release from Allegra Press.