Mapping a "Naked" psyche: interview with Wong Phui Nam
Mohammad A. Quayum, (2004) Mapping a "Naked" psyche: interview with Wong Phui Nam. SARE (Southeast Asian Review of English) (45). pp. 34-54. ISSN 0127-046x
Universiti Putra Malaysia
Wong Phui Nam is one of the leading poets in the English language in Southeast Asia. He was born in 1935 in Kuala Lumpur and received his early education at the Batu Road School and later at the Victoria Institution. He studied Economics at the University of Malaya (then in Singapore) and has since graduation worked mainly in development finance and merchant banking. While at the University he was actively involved in The New Cauldron, a literary magazine founded by students of Raffles College which later became the University of Malaya. He was co-editor of Litmus One, an anthology of university verse.
Most of the poems he wrote during the 1960s first appeared in Bunga Emas, an anthology of Malaysian writing published in the United Kingdom in 1964 (Ed. T. Wignesan). They were subsequently collected in book form and published as How the Hills Are Distant in 1968 by Tenggara (Department of English, University of Malaya). He was silent through most of the 1970s and the early 1980s. In 1989, his second volume Remembering Grandma and Other Poems was published by the English Department, National University of Singapore. In 1993, Skoob Books, London brought out Ways of Exile as a "Collected" of his earlier poems, including those from Remembering Grandma written before the 1980s. Blackwater Books, Kuala Lumpur, published Against the Wilderness, his most recent volume, in 2000.
Wong's poems have been anthologised in Seven Poets, The Second Tongue, The Flowering Tree, Young Commonwealth Poets '65, Poems from India, Sri Lanka and Malaya, Traveller's Literary Companion: South East Asia, and Westerly Looks to Asia. His works have appeared in literary journals such as Tenggara, Tumasek, South East Asian Review of English (SARE), Westerly, Manoa and World Literature Written in English (IA/EWE).
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