Dear Mama

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Dear Mama By the same token I leave you, I leave myself (with you) Wong May, "Dear Mama" Wong May, poet extraordinaire, transnational writer, post-colonial female subject, unphotographed, barely reviewed, past unknown, present undocumented, and for all intents and purposes disappeared after 1978 somewhere in Western Europe. Things I do know about her, mostly from an entry found in Contemporary Poets, edited by Thomas Riggs: She is Chinese by birth, born November 16, 1944 in Chungking, China. She is/was/is not anymore a Singaporean citizen. 1965, Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, University of Singapore 1968, Master of Fine Arts, University of Iowa, 1969, first book of poetry A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals published by Harcourt, Brace and Jovanich while working as Assistant Editor for United Business Publications. This is her only documented professional appointment. 1972, second book Reports. 1975, she is translated into German and receives a German Academic Exchange Service fellowship (Deutsch Akademisch Austauch Dienst). 1973, marries a certain Michael Coey, who is referred to as a travelling companion in her last and final book, 1978 Superstitions. With all this information, she fills one page of my notebook. Then she disappears. Or rather, in the spaces between her poetry, she was never there in the first place. My obsession is with her absence, her absence in reviews, her absence in critical studies, her absence in official conversations about Singaporean poetry. On the inner book sleeve of her second book her quote reads, "My poems are about wordlessness..." So I decide I want to write about her, a substitution for writing to her, because it is to her that I would rather write. But since there is no way of doing this, I pick the second best, I write, I investigate, I fixate. The last lines of her last book read, O Travellers, travelling anywhere the world is beautiful Our windows get dirty Her books are all dedicated to her mother, "DEAR MAMA," "To My Mother," "To my mother." Her poems are the only chronicles I have of her life. In the second book we learn that she started writing it in the winter of 1968 in New York and finished it in Winnipeg in September 1971. Her third book is begun in Berlin that same year and finishes in France, in between she continues in Hebrides, Singapore, Steglitz, Meylan, Budapest, Iona, Cracow, Prague, Poland, Malaysia, Paris.
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