The Straits Times, Singapore
April 23, 2009

By Yong Shu Hoong


Last month, while in London, I had the chance to take part in an event called Salon, which felt like a cross between a literary reading and a private house party.

The soirée took place in organiser Vincent Clay’s living room in a Finsbury Park apartment. He describes it as ‘an intimate but gin-fuelled affair for various artists and writers, and those interested in what they’re doing’.

One wall was adorned with event posters created by a graphic designer, such as one featuring a one-eyed Marie Antoinette, with the tagline ‘Let them alliterate’ a variation of the iconic French queen’s famous quotation: ‘Let them eat cake.’

Another wall was used for projecting digital images and short films.

Aside from poetry readings, Clay also presented his ‘pyramid poems’ – 3-D models where the outlines of pyramids are sentences connecting to one another via the same letter of the alphabet.

The event is not funded. Nor is it listed in Time Out London magazine.

Clay keeps a mailing list of friends and people who came to know about the event, of which as many as 40 people have shown up. At one of the sessions, I was told, British actor Ben Whishaw made a surprise visit.


There is definitely something idealistic and noble in doing something out of passion and not because of available funding or potential monetary returns.

So, as art practitioners or event organisers – instead of lamenting the lack of funding or our exclusion from ‘the scene’ – we should promote our art regardless and, if necessary, carve out our own scene.

Let us sing, alliterate or make films, because the heart tells us to.

– Yong Shu Hoong is a poet, freelance writer and Singapore Literature Prize winner.