Comments on article: InfopediaTalk
Ng Yi-Sheng (b. 25 November 1980, Singapore -) is a full-time writer whose controversial literary works have garnered much critical acclaim. Besides dabbling in fiction, poetry, drama, critiques and non-fiction, he is also actively involved in theatre, where his plays have been staged to acclaim by various theatre groups. He won the SPH-Theatreworks 24-hour Playwriting Competition in 1998 and 1999 consecutively, while his debut poetry collection, Last Boy, won him the Singapore Literature Prize in 2008. His book, SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century, was named the best non-fiction book of 2006, and in 2008 he was listed as one of the “30 under 30” promising young talents in the arts by the Straits Times.
Born in Singapore on 25 November 1980, Ng Yi-Sheng studied at Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) and Raffles Junior College (RJC) before going to Columbia University in New York to study Comparative Literature and Creative Writing.
His interest in creative writing and poetry began as a student. In 1996, he participated in the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Short Story Writing Competition and won the first prize. He started work on his award-winning debut poetry collection, Last Boy (published in 2006), in his sophomore year at RJC.
His literary development was aided by the support and encouragement he received from the Creative Arts Programme (CAP) whilst in college, a programme designed to nurture young writers by providing mentorship and creative opportunities. Prior to attending university, he attended playwriting mentorships at Theatreworks and The Necessary Stage. Ng’s mentors include poets Lee Tzu Pheng and Angeline Yap and playwright Haresh Sharma.
His literary talents were recognised from an early age. In 1999, he won first prize in the National University of Singapore’s Poetry Competition and in 2003, the first prize in the Writers’ Week Poetry Slam organised by Velvet Underground.
Ng’s debut poetry collection, Last Boy, which deals with identity issues and socio-cultural concerns won him the Singapore Literature Prize in 2008.
Ng’s poems have also been featured in various literary anthologies, including Tributaries (1995), Eye On the World (1998), No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry (2000), Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry (2002) and Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia (2008).
He both contributed and served as editor for projects such as First Words: A Selection of Works by Young Writers in Singapore (1996) and Onewinged (2000), a collection of youth writings, organised by the CAP Alumni.
In 2006, Ng published SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century, a collection of coming-out stories addressing issues of sexuality and social misconceptions. Based on first-hand interviews, the book chronicles the love stories of fifteen individuals and their struggles for acceptance. The book was named the best non-fiction book of 2006 by the Straits Times.
Commissioned by the National Library Board and the National Book Development Council of Singapore, Ng undertook a movie novelization of Kelvin Tong and Jasmine Ng’s local independent film, Eating Air. Revolving around teenage bikers, the novel was published in 2008.
Ng was also lead writer for his alma mater’s commemorative book On His Wings: Soaring Twenty Years On (2008), which traced the history of the ACS.
He has also published in various journals including Asian Journal and Quarto (both Columbia University publications), The 2nd Rule Journal and the Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore.
Besides contributing to various online portals such as Trevvy and Fridae, he also writes for the children’s newspaper, What’s Up, and is also a theatre reviewer for the Straits Times, The Flying Inkpot and The Substation Magazine.
Ng won the SPH-Theatreworks 24-hour Playwriting Competition in 1998 and 1999.
He was also published in the play anthology, 5 under 25: Prize-Winning Plays from the Writers’ Lab in 2003.
His staged plays include Hungry by Theatreworks (1998), Snake by Stage Right (1999), Redhill Blues by the CAP Alumni (1999) and Serve by The Ordinary Theatre (2006).
In 2007, he served as playwright for Musical Theatre Ltd’s Georgette, a play based on the life of painter Georgette Chen and for Toy Factory’s 251, dealing with the life of the infamous and iconic Annabel Chong. Together with Theatrework’s multi-disciplinary art collective V.I.S.T.A Lab, Ng wrote and performed in the plays, Impetus and Interference, in 2007.
In 2008, his play, Reservoir, was staged by Theatreworks. Another play entitled, The Last Temptation of Sir Stamford Raffles was staged by W!ld Rice at the Drama Centre as part of the Singapore Theatre Festival 2008.
Gay Rights Activism
Ng has never shied away from openly admitting that he is gay. Many of the poems in Last Boy revolve around his reconciliation and acceptance of his sexuality. He became keenly involved with gay rights activism while at Columbia University.
Besides working on SQ21, a project which highlighted the challenges faced by gays, lesbians and bisexuals, Ng has also participated in events geared towards creating more awareness about alternative sexualities. In 2005, he performed slam poetry for ContraDiction, Singapore’s first gay poetry recital, and both co-organised and performed at ContraDiction 2 in 2006. He delivered a lecture on Western gay history at IndigNation 2006, Singapore’s second gay pride festival.
Yet, his vocal and affirmative stance on the need for society to value those of different sexual orientations has not gone without its challenges. His work, Lee Low Tar, was banned from public performance at IndigNation 2007. In 2009, Ng attracted a fair amount of controversy when he was dropped by the Ministry of Education as a mentor in the CAP a mere one month into his mentorship.
Besides holding the distinction of being the youngest winner of the Singapore Literature Prize till date, Ng’s plays and publications have garnered much critical acclaim in the local arts scene. In 2005, the Straits Times identified him as one of “50 Young People to Look Out For”. He was also listed in the Straits Times’ “Power List 2007: Faces to Watch” and as one of the “30 Under 30” promising young people in the arts in 2008.
List of Published Works
2000 : Onewinged: An Anthology of Young Writing (Project Editor)
2006 : SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century
2006 : Last Boy
2008 : Eating Air
2008 : On His Wings: Soaring Twenty Years On
Works featured in Anthologies
1996 : First Words: A Selection of Words by Young Writers in Singapore (Co-Editor)
2000 : No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry
2002 : Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry
2003 : 5 under 25: Prize-Winning Plays from the Writers’ Lab
2008 : Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia
1998 : Hungry, Theatreworks
1999 : Redhill Blues, Creative Arts Programme Alumni
1999 : Snake, Stage Right
2006 : Serve, The Ordinary Theatre
2007 : 251, Toy Factory Theatrical Productions
2007 : Georgette, Musical Theatre Ltd
2007 : Frostbite, Short and Sweet Singapore
2008 : The Last Temptation of Stamford Raffles, W!ld Rice
2008 : Reservoir, Theatreworks
1996: First Prize, Ngee Ann Polytechnic Short Story Writing Competition
1998: Fourth Prize, Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition
1998: SPH-Theatreworks 24hour Playwriting Competition
1999: SPH-Theatreworks 24hour Playwriting Competition
1999: First Prize, National University of Singapore Poetry Competition
2003: First Prize, Velvet Underground Singapore Slam for Writer’s Week
2007: First Prize, Culturepush’s “Very Short Story Writing Competition”
2008: Singapore Literature Prize (English Category)
Sheena Kumari Singh
Book A Prize. (2009, January 11). The Straits Times. Retrieved October 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Last Boy Scores Top Honours for Poet. (2008, December 4). The Straits Times. Retrieved October 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Ng, Yi-Sheng. (2008). Eating Air. Singapore: National Library Board and National Book Development Council of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING English S828 NG)
Ng, Yi-Sheng. (2006). Last Boy. Singapore: Firstfruits Publications.
(Call no.: RSING English S821 NG)
Ng, Yi-Sheng. (2006). SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century. Singapore: Oogachaga Counseling and Support.
(Call no.: RSING English 306.76609225957)
Ng, Yi-Sheng & Aw, Gail. (Eds.). (2001). Onewinged: An Anthology of Young Writing. Singapore: UniPress.
(Call no.: RSING English S828 ONE)
Over There, An Anthology of Poetry from Singapore and Australia. (2007, December 8). The Straits Times. Retrieved October 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Yi-Sheng’s Arts Grand Slam. (2008, December 31). My Paper. Retrieved October 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Ng, Yi-Sheng, 1980-
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature