Second Saturdays Reading Series – Dec 2015

Text by Jee Leong Koh


Second Saturdays held its festive gathering in Guy and Jee’s apartment on the Upper West Side. The company was as warm as the day itself, as friends and lovers mingled over convivial talk and delicious food. We welcomed several people new to this monthly event to celebrate Singaporean and American literatures. It was wonderful to meet so many creative spirits, from fields as diverse as graphic design, architecture, filmmaking, anthropology, poetry, statistics, performance studies, and tech start-ups!

At the open reading, we heard writers new to the series. Douglas Marks started the open reading by reciting a poem by his grandmother Milli Marks called “Thank America – Talk America.” Jill Tan read the poems “What passes for intimacy,” “anew,” “Platters,” “Gracendings,” and “Rosetta” from her bookPlasma. For a change of pace, Tomson Tee read his intimate story of frustrated love “Pugilist.” Bringing the open reading to a resounding end, Sarah Sarai read her poems “An Interrogatory” and “Popularity,” the latter forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly.

After the open reading, our featured speaker Helaine Smith, the author of Masterpieces of Classic Greek Drama and the recently published Teaching Particulars: Literary Conversations in Grades 6–12, took the stage. A master teacher at The Brearley School, Helaine guided the gathering through a reading of Robert Lowell’s poem “Man and Wife.” She gave us a glimpse of the excitement of her classroom when she showed the significance of the poem’s rhyme scheme to its meaning. She ended with a few wonderfully insightful remarks on Elizabeth Bishop’s “Poem.” Her discussion of both poems appears in her bookTeaching Particulars.

January’s Second Saturdays reading will feature Singaporean author Jeremy Tiang, who will read from his new book of short stories It Never Rains On National Day. For details of the event on Saturday, January 9, or if you’d like to be added to our mailing list, please get in touch with Paul at or Jee at We wish everyone a very Happy New Year!