Jee Leong Koh
what is your name?
Jee Leong Koh. In Singapore, where I grew up, my name is Koh Jee Leong. Leong is actually my personal name, but I go by Jee here in the States.
how would you describe what you do?
I write poems. On good days I write good poems.
what are you currently working on?
I published my first book of poems, EQUAL TO THE EARTH (Bench Press), this year. I am working on my next book of poems, to be called SEVEN STUDIES FOR A SELF-PORTRAIT. It comprises seven sequences, each a different way of depicting the self. The last sequence is a set of forty-nine ghazals.
what has had the greatest influence on your work?
I would like to say the poetry of Yeats, Eliot, Auden and Larkin, but I think the truth is closer to sex.
what is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
That it is all about sex.
what do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
Poetry is total art: language, imagery, music, movement, drama, structure. It is capable of the greatest power and of the utmost gentleness. I don’t know of any weakness.
how has technology impacted upon the work you do?
I participate in an online poetry workshop where I give and receive criticism of my work-in-progress. I also blog about books, art, theater, film, music and travel, to remember my experiences, and to keep my writing sharp. I use Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to promote my book and blog. There are many good online literary journals to which I submit my work. The internet is a tremendous resource and tool for a writer like me. In fact you found me on Facebook, didn’t you?
what’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
Don’t keep talking about what you do. Do it.
where can we find you online?
My book EQUAL TO THE EARTH is published by Bench Press. You can read and hear a poem from the book on the press website (http://www.benchpresspoetry.com). I blog at Song of a Reformed Headhunter (http://jeeleong.blogspot.com).
what are you reading at the moment?
I just finished reading Gregory Woods’s book of poetry criticism Articulate Flesh. It has wonderful chapters on Hart Crane, W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg and Thom Gunn. Today, on the subway, I was re-reading Sherod Santos’ translations of Greek lyrical poetry.
what are you listening to at the moment?
Debussy and Chopin.
anything else we should know?
I am available to do readings in New York City and nearby. People tell me I am a good reader of my work.