Readers, I have to confess: I still haven’t the faintest idea what a ‘virtual residency’ means. The two words seem to repel each other, and it feels like I have resort to cursed tech trends like the Metaverse or the Vision Pro to make sense of them.
I’ve never been to Norwich.
My walking tour which, confession two point one, I’m still writing, and two point two, I think a cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on arrogant poets like myself, needed to be anchored in crowdsourced images from my virtual friends Kate Griffin and Tiffany Atkinson, as well as the Secret Norwich Facebook group.
What the hell am I doing here? Here being in Singapore, on Zoom, and certainly not in Dragon Hall?
I’ve been making found poetry from Singaporean and Malaysian internet forums. Confession three: I am not sure whether there is an audience for them beyond five BBFAs = Bui Bui Forever Alone = a sort of self-deprecating incel. My other virtual friend Max Ho sends me screenshots of these forum posts every once in awhile. The language is gross and I can’t stop reading it, like a KFC Double Down.
Tiffany has been reading these with (horrified?) interest. I am horrifically interested in her interest. She’s done some research into embarrassment and I’m here for it.
These poems have forced a complete change in my creative process. Where once writing meant disconnecting from the noise of the world, writing now means being utterly plunged into it, doomscrolling and reloading and getting intimate with the mechanics of advanced forum search.
In between the numerous Zoom meetings I’ve attended as a virtual resident, I’ve had to deal with the stuff of non-virtual life. Singapore is fast-paced and I have a three-year-old who is the most adorable thing. Confession four, dear readers, there are three Singapore virtual residents and I’ve not spoken to the other two in person ever.
Where once residency meant disconnecting from the noise of the world, residency now means dialing in, a toddler’s utterly cute screams in the background, cold dinner on the table just out of sight of the webcam.
I mean, confession five, I love Double Downs.
I’ve met some amazing writers and translators I might never have encountered otherwise, including Sam Riviere, whose own poetics reminds me of what I’ve been up to myself. It’s been possible to go on residency without abandoning my job or my family. I’ve gotten very respectable poets to read lines like “sinkapok spik engerish rike shit one”.
A couple days ago I decided to key “Norwich” into advanced forum search. What would BBFAs and those cosplaying as them have to say about this place I’ve virtually resided in? What wisdom or serendipity would I find? Of course! Football! Oh. I’m going to keep offending everyone, aren’t I…
LET’S LAUGH AT MANURE!
for everyone in EPL Football Forum to relac one corner
and to curse Wayne Rooney deep deep
to kena lang ga by lorry so he will be injured for life,
then so Manure will fulfil the Liverpool fans’ dream
of never winning another Premiership title //
MANURE fan here… came in to +1 nia song song //
dont worry… man utd will still win the next 37 matches! //
loser kia~~ jin xia suay…
team lose liao wunna hum tum ppl~~
go take sleeping pills and go koon lah~~~
act gangster nia… //
GOT BALLZ PUT UR LOCATION,
I WILL DRIVE DOWN TO UR PLACE AND WE SETTLE! //
see those manure fans flamed liverpool yesterday…
see liao jin buey song… the ball ish round!!!~~~
WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUNDS //
during the start of the season man u lose
damn happy and laugh damn hard, now i no feeling
perhaps look down at the table can’t see them??
can moist give norwich 3pts so they can survive?? //
I laugh at the claim of winning treble
HAHAHAHA~~~ GONNA WIN TREBLE~!!
I laugh at the claim to getting in top 4
HAHAHAH~~~ GONNA GET IN TOP 4~!! //
dun fret! Manure is still ahead of Liverfool on goal difference! //
their pep talk before match and half time is,
“guys, you all only got two options:
a – you screwed the opposition.
b – i screwed your wife. choose one” //
David Moyes set to be sacked by Manchester United
please give him more time, please please please tolong! //
wah liew… jin sad… hope they appoint
another cock-up to make us happy //
dun worry, still can laff at ryan giggs,
this thread shall live on //
song bo manure… Norwich also can’t win! //
if its not becuz of the controversies
from the refs from tis and tat
i think football is boring
u got nth to talk abt every wk in, wk out
“oh liverpool won”
“oh chelsea lost again”
tat’s all we’re gonna be reacting…
if it wasn’t for all these wrong decisions
we can’t debate. we can’t argue
we can’t spectaculate //
whatever. for now…
glory glory Norwich City!
Tse Hao Guang (謝皓光) is the author of The International Left-Hand Calligraphy Association (Tinfish Press, 2023) and Deeds of Light (Math Paper Press, 2015), the latter shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize. He edits or has edited the collaborative e-journal OF ZOOS; UnFree Verse (Ethos Books, 2017), the anthology of Singapore poetry in received and nonce forms; literary food writing anthology Food Republic (Landmark Books, 2020); and the new edition of Windham-Campbell prize-winning poet Wong May’s 1969 debut, A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals (Ethos Books, 2023). He is a 2016 fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and the 2018 National Writer-in-Residence at Nanyang Technological University. Poems and essays appear in Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The Yale Review, Poetry Northwest, Entropy and elsewhere. Website
Image (c) Daryl Qilin Yam
You may also like...
‘Becoming Extrovert: The Secret Life of Translators’ by Sim Wai-chew
Enjoy this commission from virtual NCW resident Wai-chew Sim on extroversion and the ways that languages borrow from, and feed into, one another.
1st February 2024
Read ‘The Road Taken’ by Wai-chew Sim
Virtual NCW resident Sim Wai-chew has written a creative Walking Norwich commission about unlikely old friends meeting, reflecting on the Second Mayalan Emergency.
9th November 2023
‘In Search of Solace’ by Paige Aniyah Morris
‘My immediate must-do upon arriving in Norwich would have to be tracking down at least one pocket of the city where the noise dulled, where I could be alone.’
18th September 2023