Seven Studies for a Self Portrait

41Keu8+dPiLby Jee Leong Koh
Bench Press, 2011

Jee Leong Koh’s third book of poems subjects the self to an increasingly complex series of personal investments and investigations. Ever-evolving, ever-improvisatory, the self appears first as a suite of seven ekphrastic poems, then as free verse profiles, riddles, sonnet sequences, and finally a divan of forty-nine ghazals. (Publisher’s description)

Aptly titled, this is an obsessively curated volume of free verse poems, riddles, sonnet sequences and ghazals; it comprises seven sections of seven poems each, save for the divan of forty-nine ghazals. Each section interrogates the self through a different mirror: through responses to art, the third person narrative, riddles, abstractions, translations of the Other, emotional landscapes, conversations with the self and appeals to a lover. Perhaps due to the ambition of its premise and intended scope, this anthology unfolds like a series of scientific experiments that don’t quite take off, save for a few and the rewarding title section ‘Seven Studies’. — Mascara Review)

Jee Leong Koh is the author of four books of poems, including Seven Studies for a Self Portrait. Born in Singapore, he lives in New York City, where he writes a blog and curates the website Singapore Poetry.

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