Friday, 6 March 2009

If You’re Not, Why Not?

Looking for a meaningful gift for the girlfriends in your life to mark International Women’s Day? Think global, support local – pick up a copy, or two or three, of Singapore poet Vivienne Yeo’s book, ‘If you are not, why not?’

I met this quietly passionate poet at a reading of her favourite poems when her book was first published in late 2005. Impressed by her thoughtful, calm and contemplative demeanour, I stayed on to chat with her.

“Women in general get caught up in the meticulousness of planning,” she said. “We get daunted and worry about this, that and every conceivable thing in between, when actually the first step to any possibility is to act on it,” she added.

Putting action into words, her book of 50 poems is organized into several broad chapters: Beauty, Truths, Darkness, Snares, Going Forth and Glimpses. The book is a result of her personal quest to fulfill her passion: to boldly express herself, albeit unconventionally, through verse.

One of Yeo’s initial worries was that people did not read poetry as much as they did other more mainstream types of writing, but when she started to write, she began to tell herself “why not?” Hence, the title of the book – ‘If you are not, why not?’ – which aims to share the beauty of verse, which needs “to be discovered like a hidden treasure or a lost love.”

I found Yeo’s style eminently likeable, and the book a surprisingly easy read. Through her poetry, she shares the little nuggets of wisdom she’s picked up along the way and learned to accept as mantras to live life with unbridled passion.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

I Am Happy (page 50)
Happiness is about living better;
And living better
Is simply living simpler

Get Your Groove (page 47)
Just read your heart,
Don’t think too much.

When thoughts speak, listen;
When heart whispers, embrace.

A surefooted path once distilled,
Despite its forks, you knowingly walk

-By ey

If You’re Not, Why Not?
By Vivienne Yeo
S$10.90/Borders, Kinokuniya


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