The Singapore literary scene welcomed great news today when star local poet Jesslyn Yip announced she would remain miserable for another year. At a special event, Yip unveiled a comprehensive 38-page plan to keep herself in an ideal state of angst for creative production. Within minutes, local writers were lauding her work as yet another milestone for Singapore’s arts scene.
“People think writing poetry is easy,” said Elfin Phang, a veteran of the local literati. “They throw in some line breaks, check a thesaurus, use some cutesy Singlish phrase – hah! They’re just writing poems. Writing poetry takes real effort, and Jesslyn is proving that. Just look at her programme: she’s managed to squeeze in getting dumped thrice in the first two months! Lord only knows how she’s going to have a terrible boss and be unemployed at the same time, but I’m sure she’ll handle it.”
When asked whether he thought Yip might be overly ambitious in the amount of misery she was trying to fit into a year, Phang said the risk of burnout was inherent in the business. “Look, poetry is hard – if you want something easy, go do what Elfian does,” he said, referring to local playwright Elfian Sah’at. “There, you just angst about the government. With poetry, you must angst about yourself, or your voice won’t be authentic. How is Jesslyn supposed to write poems about migrant workers if she doesn’t spend August building skyscrapers in Dubai? It’s impossible.”
Yip herself explained that, as with everything else in her life, making the decision was extremely difficult. “I’ve spent several months doing nothing but agonizing over whether to commit to this misery plan, and it was very conducive to my forthcoming anthology titled The Infidelity of Indecision,” she said, holding up a copy. “I mean, I could call it quits, get my serotonin back up to healthy levels, and lead an emotionally stable and fulfilling life. But then I’d never write anything worth publishing again. If I want to keep producing books that only my close friends in SingPoWriMo will ever read, I need to remain deeply unhappy for at least the next year.”
“And it’s not just for myself,” she added. “My work is valuable – I speak to the concerns and anxieties of today’s youth. Educating them on the importance of mental health is so meaningful to me, and the best way I can convey that message is by doing terrible things to my own. Talk to regular students, and I’m sure they’ll tell you my poetry helps them with their own problems.”
Unfortunately, we could not verify this as the only people around were other poets who said their problems were much too unique and special to be reflected in Yip’s work. Although we worked hard to get the general public’s reaction to Yip’s announcement, at press time, we were still unable to find anyone who knew who she was.