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Driving pressure in poetry appreciation, Arts News & Top Stories

Singaporean poet and trainer Ho Poh Fun, who wrote of the “quiet obituaries, subtleties/ grace, strength, forbearance/ that life has to earn” in her poem Rain Tree, died on Monday, aged 71.

The reason for demise has not but been confirmed, though members of the family say it’s more likely to have been a coronary heart assault.

She attended Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and Raffles Institution, and later obtained a grasp’s diploma in English from the National University of Singapore. She was a trainer at Raffles Junior College (RJC) for 20 years.

Her quick story, When The Tabebuia Bloomed At Soo Chow Gardens, first appeared in Tanjong Rhu And Other Stories (1986), a set of 4 prize-winning entries from the 1982 Short Story Writing Competition organised by the previous Ministry of Culture.

While her poetry is broadly anthologised, she is most famous for her lone assortment, Katong And Other Poems (1994).

The assortment of 68 poems, starting from the early work Sennett Road ’66 to the titular Katong, information snapshots of experiences related intently to locations in Singapore. It gained a Commendation Award in poetry on the 1996 National Book Development Council of Singapore’s Book Awards.

We have lost a fantastic rememberer of the gradual change, of the in-between.

POET GWEE LI SUI on Ho Poh Fun’s poetry

Many within the literary scene expressed sorrow on the news of her demise.

Her long-time pal, poet Anne Lee Tzu Pheng, 71, stated Ho had been the driving pressure behind RJC’s Afternoon of Poetry programme, guaranteeing it happened yearly for years with out fail. “I think we owe Poh Fun a great debt for her quiet tenacity in ensuring that students experience the arts and I think she sometimes provided little prizes and tokens at her own expense just to enliven and reward effort and achievement.”

Lee, who wrote the foreword for Katong, added: “I always felt she was too quick to put down her own writing. She had a fine sensibility and her poetry had a subtle power that sounded plain on first reading, but made its point sensitively without showiness.”

Ho served as a Creative Arts Programme mentor to poets comparable to Aaron Maniam, 39, who stated on Facebook that he wouldn’t be writing poetry in the present day if not for her encouragement. “She pushed me after I was in Secondary three to be exacting with myself, to seek out new phrases and pictures for issues, to by no means accept imitation or mediocrity.

“Like the Yorkshire poet Ted Hughes, whom she loved, nature provided most of her inspiration, as she went about the tough, quiet, hunting business of capturing elusive snapshots of plants, the weather and the other ways the exterior world speaks to us.”

Poet Gwee Li Sui, 47, who has lectured on Ho’s poetry, described her assortment Katong as stuffed with “a delicate poetry soaked in the images and emotions of Singaporean times and places”.

He added: “We have lost a fine rememberer of the gradual change, of the in-between.”

Ho, who was single, leaves behind a sister and two brothers, together with 4 nephews and nieces.

Her niece Chelsia Ho, 38, stated she was an “active, independent” girl who lived alone and who doted on her grand-nieces and grand-nephew, taking them out for birthdays and Christmas and shopping for them books.

“It has been sudden and shocking to lose her,” stated Ms Ho, who works in communications. “But we are glad to know that as a teacher, she impacted so many. Whatever contributions we receive for the funeral will be put aside to support creative writing in Singapore as a way of remembering her.”

Ho’s cortege will depart Mount Vernon Parlour 1 at 1.20pm in the present day for Mandai Crematorium Service Hall 2.

Her former college students are organising an Afternoon of Poetry and Music as a tribute to her from midday to 3pm subsequent Saturday.

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