Anne Lee Tzu Pheng
LEE TZU PHENG, ANNE, born in Singapore and a well-known poet, has some
eight collections of poetry to her name, and a winner of numerous awards,
among them the Singapore Cultural Medallion for Literature (1985), the S.E.A WRITE Award (1987), the Gabriela Mistral Award (from Chile, 1995), and the Singapore National Book Development Council Award for poetry (three times). Her most recent publication, Common Life (2018), poems in collaboration with artist Ho Chee Lick, was hailed as a book for Singaporeans of all ages. Published
and studied internationally, some of her poems have been set to music. She has mentored many of Singapore’s young writers who are now internationally known. Her own poetry is characterized by clarity and ironic humour. In 2014, she was among the 108 women inducted into the inaugural Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. Lee generally avoids being in the public eye, and considers herself an ordinary person blessed with an extraordinary gift.
The House of Possibilities, a memoir of childhood
About the memoir
For decades I had been aware that the house that I grew up in from ages 2 – 9,
had an unfading presence in my personal memories. Some years ago I wrote in a notebook a few details of what I could recall, including a floor plan. Looked at objectively, it was a fairly ordinary childhood, yet I realized something about that time and place had a powerful shaping influence on my mind, sensibilities, and imagination.
Writing the memoir helped me discover why that part of my childhood remains
important among what I have discovered about identity and disposition. As a writer, I am personally intrigued by how creative writing – even in dealing with factual materials – transforms reality for the writer as much as for the reader. What appears mundane and unremarkable may be shaped so that it becomes unforgettable. This is what the craft of writing can do for us. The house no longer exists. It was an old house back then, and not in very good repair, but it was unlike any I had lived in before or since; and it was its – to my child’s eyes – remarkable structure, that I remember vividly. My siblings and I spent a happy childhood there, and perhaps it was that happiness
that makes the memory so treasured. Many people are of the view that only adversity prompts one to write creatively. I do not think this is true. I hope that this memoir gives further insight into this, and also re-creates something of joy for the reader.
Artwork: Moments to Remember