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⇜ An NUS Literary Society Publication ⟿

Masthead ________________________________________________________________ A philosophy and theatre studies major, Isaac founded Symbal in 2011, when he joined NUS Literary Society, in the hopes of promoting and encouraging budding Singaporean writers.

Isaac Tan, Editor-in-Chief

He’s an enthusiast for all things artsy as he can be seen hanging out in theatres, bookshops, museums and galleries. He hopes to be a professional actor someday and perhaps, in some possible world, a flamenco dancer and a writer as well. In his meagre spare time, he blogs at


Justin Tan, Executive Editor

Justin is a political science major and literature minor. He has served in the publications department of NUS Literary Society since 2011, and thoroughly enjoys reading every submission it receives. An orchestral film-score junkie and inveterate dreamer, he professes interest in any subject unclaimed by math and formulae. In such time as he has at hand, Justin hopes to be a writer, concept artist, amateur naturalist, and photographer. He finds aesthetic wonder in almost any environment, but is happiest amidst grand old architecture or boundless, pensive scenery.


Suranjana Sengupta, Executive Editor

A Computer Engineering major, Suranjana joined the NUS Literary Society in 2012, hoping to unite her love for Literature with Science, along with meeting fellow students who share similar interests. As a reflective poet and a passionate writer, she enjoys reading everything from Early Medieval Literature to Contemporary Fiction. She loves Nature, Classical Music and just about anything to do with History. She also has an earnest interest in Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy. Although Suranjana aspires to follow a career in Computer Engineering, she also cherishes the goal of becoming a well-known author one day. During her tenure with NUS LitSoc, she hopes to participate actively in Literary Events in hope of encouraging innovative works of fiction, poetry and plays.

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The Editor Commends

Stranger Smoke Evening Dust Lim Sioh Huang

Heart in Her House Nicole Kang Her Weak Space Teo Huey Yun I’d Catch A Grenade For Ya Denise Khng Different Settlements Chew Yi Wei Cycles of Feasting and Fasting Chew Yi Wei Announcements Submission Guidelines

-â‹„ The Editor Commends â‹„Summer holidays are here! What better way to celebrate the end of another semester than to read for pure pleasure? If you are unsure of which big novel to embark first, why not warm up by savouring this issue? For starters, we have the winners of our first Musings competition! Writers are required to submit their works on the theme of Space and we encouraged as creative an interpretation of the theme as possible. My hearty congratulations go out to Nicole Kang, Teo Huey Yun and Denise Khng and I do hope you enjoy the book vouchers we sent you! Take time to savour their works and explore the odd nooks and crannies that their writing takes you. Aside from the Musings winners, we have works from two ends of the spectrum. We have a rather young writer, Sioh Huang, whose muse is that of nature - smoke, raindrops and sunsets. On the other end, we are very honoured to have a graduate student, Yi Wei, entrusting her works to us. Her works coincidentally fit the theme of space as well. So take a peek at a church service in Bethlehem and remember to come home to see the sights, smells and sounds of the lunar seventh month. As it is the holidays, I shall spare you from reading a treatise from me. Instead, I wish all readers a fantastic summer ahead but be sure to come back in August to read our next issue!

In the meantime, we are open to submissions for our next issue. Guidelines can be found at the back of this issue. So take out your pen, dip the nib into an inkwell of inspiration and send your works our way! Happy holidays everyone!

Isaac Tan Editor-in-Chief 3rd June 2013

Stranger I watched the raindrops fall from heaven, Angels with no wings. They raised their arms, but could not Hold the falling sky. (They asked them to.) Instead they splinter Into the deep silky strands of riverflow. I saw them for a fleeting second, then never saw them again.

Smoke* They uncurl in charred wisps, empty Remnants of golden locks.

"Come, I promise you eternal warmth!" Cries the sun. They drift to it, still frozen In a lingering memory of spitting fire, Not knowing they have died.

* (previously accepted in Cuckoo Quarterly and Miracle E-zine)

Evening Dust Sunset augments the evening Dust, settles as powdered gold.

Unknown finger stirs The air. As if it is hot. Scampering leaves Wandering, lost,

Souls follow me home.

~ Lim Sioh Huang

Lim Sioh Huang, 15, is a Science student currently studying at Nanyang Girls' High School in Singapore. She is an amateur poet who writes for supper and her poems have been published in Cuckoo Quarterly and Miracle E- zine.

Heart in Her House She looked over the barren skillet at the dependable horoscope in her confining stilettos. The rough stove Burning, ravishing the bacon, searching for a god, Hungry for the ooze of oil. So many ways For Lard to glisten, its shimmering form

Searing, smearing greasy smells. The blearing form In dirty denim leans on the table, Eyes dart to her sway -ing figure in her confining Ivory-white bandeau, body bent, bowing as to a god Stockings stretched tight over thighs, the stove Works its magic, a chunk of charred love Curling in the oily heat. Thoughts form He is a bronze god. She was lucky to have him, a strapping dependable Miracle. She, his helpmeet, joined Together in their Eden, to his rough musky ways. The clink of keys on the counter-top, And the conceit of a dust-covered stove. He turns her over, stressed strands of hair combines With soot-black nails, grasped on her form The smell of blue daisies planted in the arable Remnants of the sunset’s orange glow, the god-like







Halo ring rests on her rod, Her spatula, while she sways To the music of the dependable Crackling, merry stove Fingers shift over unwashed dishes, blank tax forms Fall, appalling ruins of paperwork confined


35 In the portico of this house, aligning Pillars, assembled by a scrambled dog, Frame their convulsing forms, A picture of (butter)flies in lusty heat, always Mating, wings melting over a burning stove. taking a gamble.


She looks at the dependable horoscope, the confining Shores of the stove, the aged figure of the kitchen god, She stands in her stubborn ways, domestic steward in ashened form.

~ Nicole Kang

Although Nicole has been in the editorial line for the past five years (mostly campus publications), she has never had any of her creative work published before because she prefers to bury herself in any book, television drama, or film related to the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian periods. Nicole is also a proud member of the Jane Austen Circle (Singapore) and is also the creator of a Jane Austen card game (Matches & Matrimony).

her weak space If you should ask For a carapace of my soul For a slather of my mind I can proffer no words, no speeches.

For the minds’ space swells with the strung words of the old; Heavy, rich and steep in history and shape.

words: crusting in between the vacuumed packed Pandoras of tiny little alphabets. I think therefore I am. And my mind is an infinite space of hollowness, unbarred.

it is the (space) (s) of emptiness and

mystic, spun from the absence of thoughts and words, but never of life.

If you should ask

For a crustacean of my soul For a whiff of my mind I can proffer

the buttery waft of melted cheese, breathy kisses clinging from water-weak caresses and the somnolence of life spilling and pouring from the clandestine. The taste of the salted tears Weaving into heightened stings. Happiness and love hiding in the lost corners of thieved touches, stolen smiles and glances.

And never in the proffering of speech For words Do not form in ‘no man lands’. For words Are her weak space.

~ Teo Huey Yin Huey Yun is as quiet as a mouse, with strangers and acquaintances, but as loud as a horn, with loved ones. Lover of all things ethereal and quirky, she enjoys the company of her fat cat very much. She also occasionally rambles and writes at Demaractedd (

I’d Catch a Grenade For Ya

The couple sitting in the train were bickering. The girl, fresh-faced and ginger-haired, waved her video-camera around. She wore her straw Fedora over her eyes, which were bright and flecked with green.

“No, I’m telling you! Let’s make a recording. It’ll be so much fun!” Her voice was young and shrill. “I’m really not in the mood.” “Stop being such a loser.” The boy slunk back against his seat and ran a hand through his hair tiredly. He glared at her. “I’m not a loser,” he said quietly.

“Come on.” The camera remained focused on his face. He kept silent, turning his face to the window where the glass reflected back to him a pair of dark miniature pools. He stared back into the black, marvelling at how wondrously sunken they looked. If only he could reach out and touch that shiny liquid eye pigment and pull himself into an eternally swirling vortex of peace and silence... he would be alone, with solitude as his wandering companion. He turned back to face her and a cloud of smoke hit him in the face like vaporous clingwrap. He coughed. “Don’t do that! There’s probably a smoke alarm somewhere. You’ll get us thrown off.”

“Prude. Besides, it’s 4am in the middle of nowhere. Fancy a train conductor sauntering through a fucking field of

cows.” “Shut up, Penny.” “Smile, asshole.” The camcorder wavered an inch from his face. He swatted at it. She rolled her eyes and set it down on her lap. They rode in silence for an awkward moment. He continued staring out the window, unmoving, hoping the silence would make her squirm. She fiddled with the red velvet bow around her hat and pouted. “Why’re you doing this?” he asked softly, turning his eyes to hers. She picked up the camcorder again. He looked away. “There’s nothing out the window, Zac. Look at me.” He turned back, sighing. “Just put that thing away.” “Stop being such a loser and say something to the camera. Practice run.” He turned to the camera in resignation, and looked

straight into the lens. “We are on a train.” She smiled. “To where?” “To London.” “And?” “Huh?” “Why are we going to London?”

“Because we’re running away.” “And what’s in that thing?” She pointed the camera at a

brown leather hard case under his seat. “My guitar.” She leaned forward and gave him a peck on the cheek. “And what’s that for?” she asked huskily. “The rest of my life.” She froze for a second, then retreated sharply to her

seat, green eyes narrowing at him. “You’re pretty inarticulate for an English major.” “Jeez, what’s the matter now?” She folded her arms and looked out the window where the glass reflected two angry kryptonite mines. “Analyse that yourself.” “Oh, come on.” She reached into her bag, took out a pair of sunglasses and put them on, turning once more to face the window. He started to reach for her hand but thought the better of it and withdrew. “Pen...?” She stared defiantly into her sunglass-filtered darkness, ginger-hair falling across the right side of her cheek as she concentrated on the nothingness out the window. Her hat sat crookedly on her head, the red bow clashing with the sad cold of the carriage. The sight made him smile. He gently picked up the camcorder from her lap and focused the lens on her. She faced him. “What’re you recording me for? So I can be a blip in the rest of your life? Fuck you.”

He turned off the camera, set it down on the fold-up table between them and turned to the window. “You’re impossible,” he muttered. “That was just syntax.” She snatched the camcorder back and dumped it back on her lap. Then, in a show of anger, she unzipped her duffel and pulled out a small bottle of wine and a half-filled water tumbler. “Pen, come on.” She downed the water then poured the wine into the empty tumbler and took a large swig, hiding herself behind her large sunglasses, unmoving, unfeeling. Like a Greek statue at the V&A he’d marvelled at once upon a school excursion. The blanket of silence wore on, coming unstitched only

by the occasional bump along the tracks. Tolerating it no longer, he took out his guitar, a deep blue flat top, and ran his thumb through all six strings. Each metallic twang of a note knifed through the tension. “I’d catch a grenade for ya...,” he sang in a soft tenor, one laced with a rough edge that never skirted past its boyish timbre. “Throw my hand on a blade for ya...” She brusquely wiped at a sunglassed eye with the back of her hand but maintained her ramrod posture. “I’d jump in front of a train for ya...” “You know I’d do anything for ya...,” she chimed in, a small smile tugging at her lips. He ended the tune with a flourishing strum and she burst out laughing. A loud, girlish guffaw.

“Whatcha’ gonna do when you get famous?” she leaned in closely towards him. “I don’t know. Get a car, maybe... and one of those mansions on top of a hill.” “You think your dad’s gonna find you eventually?” “Doubt it.” “Thanks for taking me along with you.” “Yeah?” he scoffed. “You might want to think twice about that when he wakes up from all that Ambien I gave him.” “You think it was a good idea to have left him in the janitor’s closet?” “It’s better than leaving him in the living room. At least I’ve bought a little more time.” “How long are we gonna be staying at the hostel again?” “A week. Just for the audition.”

“What happens after that?” He leaned back against his seat and wrapped his arms around himself, a hug against the cold. “I’m not sure,” he murmured. “What happens to me, then?” He stopped and pondered for a moment. The silence dragged once more. He wished there was a way to shut it up. “Why did you come along, Penny?” he said finally, turning an unfocused gaze towards the window. “I wanted to. You need a friend in a time like this.” He looked at her but said nothing.

“Aren’t you glad I’m with you?” “Of course,” he said distractedly. “What time is it?” “You’ve got a watch. Look at it,” she stared pointedly at him, green eyes burning behind the shades. “I’m sorry,” he said in low voice. “No you’re not, asshole.” “You wanted to come along!” “Just forget it, okay?” she muttered quickly, brushing away a hidden tear. “Look, I’m sorry I’m not exactly nuanced right now, alright?” he said, voice rising. “’Cause in case you don’t remember, I drugged my father six hours ago, and I don’t fucking know if he’s dead or alive!”

“Fuck you,” she said softly, gathering up her duffel and the camcorder in a huff. She moved to the empty seat across the aisle and faced the window. It had started to drizzle; the raindrops ran rivers across the glass, reflecting nothing but the white-yellow lights of the train interior, pelting steadily against the surface like thousands of stones being hurled at the window. The train shuddered to a crawl. “Paddington,” the automated voice resonated through the carriage. A stony silence followed as the train halted completely. “I recorded what you said,” she said suddenly. “What?” She held up the camcorder. “It’s all in here,” she said triumphantly.

“God damn you, Penny...” He rose out of his seat and made for the camcorder. She held it in a death grip. “Delete it!” he screamed. She screamed back, all sound and no words, and shoved him away. He fell back against the blue guitar, snapping its neck into

two. A jagged splinter fell to the floor beside him as he lay there, stunned. She seized his momentary immobility to scramble for the exit doors just as they opened, the red bow around her hat unravelling in the wind. “Fuck,” he muttered, struggling to pull himself off the floor. He paused for a second to grab his guitar case then sprinted out the door after her. Outside, the wind was merciless, raging through a hole from a missing panel in the arching ceiling. The drizzle had swelled into a storm that threatened to swallow the entire station, or so it seemed to him. He looked wildly around for her, head spinning, catching sight of no one but the gawking emptiness of dark corners and black windows. Then, he spotted a flash of red at the end of the platform. He gave chase. “Pen, I’m sorry!” “Get away from me, you loser!” she screamed, the shrill, bright

voice caught and tangled in the drone of the rain. Under the lights of the station, her eyes shone bright and wet. He ran faster as she rushed blindly towards the other side of

the platform. He had scarcely blinked when she disappeared – dropping down into the blackness of the tracks like she’d slid down an invisible tunnel such as the vortex in his eye – just as the train

on the other side pulled in. An ear-splitting screech heralded the mangled thunder of collision. He stopped dead in his tracks. Under the umbrella of glass and metal and night, his heart pounded in his ears like the sound of the rain against the windows as the red-bowed straw hat swept across the windblown floor and came to a rest under the soles of his shoes. ~ Denise Khng

Denise is currently an English Literature major who hopes her creative work will one day redeem her string of grade misses in college. She lived in Amsterdam for a semester and loves travel, blockbusters, the colour red and Europe. Her short screenplay, The Rest of Me, is a finalist at the WILDsound Film Festival in Toronto. Contact her at

Different Settlements (Baraka Bible Presbyterian Church; Bethlehem, Palestine; December 2010)

Sunday morning; church in another place, home of Jesus’ birth so long ago, seven hours away from my equatorial home. The pews are hard the floor paved in concrete dusty, sandy the small sanctuary, peopled, dappled with December sunshine, windows open to let the fresh air in. I am used to the air-conditioner in church the cushioned seats the carpeted floor and the soundproofed walls without windows; but the Palestinian morning greets me like a summer’s cloud burst in winter.

We enter tentatively, yellow–skinned Christians from Singapore. They, the Palestinian-Christians smile warmly, say hello, God bless you. Further away, a Muslim prayer resonates mellifluously, pervading the shackled city; praise for Allah and our church service begins simultaneously, dissonantly. the pastor (from Singapore) prays for peace in Jerusalem peace in Israel peace in Palestine peace on earth good will to men. I pry open an eye as I pray; the windows are still open and opposite I see excavators and cranes preying, ploughing, digging the barren earth as it rests, restlessly under a blue Middle Eastern sky.

Home land in Bethlehem trespassed as God listens: Our petitions for another people rise unsteadily – I feel a trembling unsettling sense of things as the machines pound the ground noisily; there are slight tremors. It is safe in Singapore – God and the Government in the details, settled like us on the evened-out soil of differing faiths, where prayers are smaller and the land, flatter.

The pastor says amen; we and the Palestinians rise for worship together in another settlement, unsettled. ~ Chew Yi Wei

Cycles of Feasting and Fasting It is mid August in Singapore and an array of smells pervade my estate throughout the day. The Taoists are busy with rituals; both day and night, they have by them stacks and stacks of paper money, cash they believe will afford the dead some annual spending power. The streets are strewn with the remnants of burnt pulp and the pavements are lined with joss sticks and food – oranges, cakes, bowls of white rice and pieces of suckling pig, even. The aroma of Chinese food and the miasma of smoke are braided in an eclectic blend, filling the air with an olfactory concoction, odd, unmistakable. The ghosts are hungry, not just for cash, but for meticulously cooked delicacies. They are, like they were before passing on, relentless consumers of victual and lucre. Or if they had not the means to be uninhibited spenders and connoisseurs of fine dining, then I suppose death gives them the chance to do so. Perhaps too, it allows the living some much needed consolation that their loved ones, who are now no more, can at least have a better life in death. The olfactory conflation of smoke and food, though not particularly effluvious to me, must indeed be to them, for it is both to the spirits and their believers, a gesture of respect through alimentary as well as economic practices – at once human and supernatural. In the evening, I am able to see the diminishing embers of the burnt notes, residual but bright, illuminating the sidewalks with little glows that will finally be extinguished together with the darkening night into the pockets of those who dwell in the spirit world. The dishes on the pavements, offerings to the spirits who pass by that way, seem almost like a starter to a bigger feast, and these embers coupled with the flame flickering on joss sticks betoken a candlelit dinner for a bevy of spectral diners. As I look

into some of the units of the neighboring blocks, I see altars erected with an even wider display of food; this time whole suckling pigs, multiple bowls of white rice and a cornucopia of fruits are laid out, with incense bowls and Taoists gods – like the Goddess of Mercy or Kuan Yin, Grand Uncle or Tua Pek Gong and The Thunder God or Lei Gong amongst an infinitely bigger pantheon – seated in the background, grandiosely, like sentinels guarding the gustatory adornments while savoring each bite. There is a particular family living in the adjacent block that is highly devout. During this time every year, they would receive streams of visitors, both people and spirits, into their unit. Living on the ground floor, this family would diligently lay out tables of food right outside their unit, their front door always open that anyone may enter to pay respects to the gods that sit on their very elaborate altar. They do not spare any detail in serving their ghostly guests as well as their human ones. As I walk past them this evening, I see children and adults lighting joss sticks and bowing down in reverence to the food that is placed before them. At the same time, I see other visitors to this little home-shrine throwing the hell notes into a special metal bin used for burning. These bins, like portals, keep the fires contained that the notes might be channeled straight to the receivers in the other world. Various bins are placed at various locations and from where I stand, I can see sporadic but small spots of conflagration, all kept within these metal receptacles. The night is aglow with festivity, people are milling about on the pavements, outside select units of the HDB block. Just about 200 meters away, a huge tent is set up on a large concrete space, a space positioned strategically in the heart of the housing estate meant for community events of variegated natures. There is a wooden platform – a stage, to be precise – whose front and back sections are exposed to those who bother to encircle the structure. At the back portion, Chinese opera singers paint their

faces deliberately, attentively, their fingers like brushes on a threedimensional canvas, each painted face symbolizing a onedimensional character type. I am concurrently stoked by their ornately designed costumes, the numerous thread counts and multifarious colors. It must be laborious wearing something so heavy, and all the more arduous when they perform their acrobatics on stage. Beside them are the getai performers. Decked in blatantly garish sequins, lycra and stockings the female performers prepare their dance moves before stepping onto the front stage. One of them is practising a pole dance, a new kind of entertainment recently added to getai performances. One could accuse commercialized and fashionable dance trends of invading the tradition that is so steeped in getai performances, but these getai pole dancers – as if getai pole dancing were an art on its own – somehow inject a stream of local energy to this somewhat more foreign form. The male performers are themselves clothed in rainbow colored shirts with thick gold chains around their necks. Some of them are taking a puff before going on stage while others are standing around, chatting with fellow performers. There is an atmosphere here that is remarkably different from what I am so accustomed to seeing – the ordered way of life suddenly takes on another trajectory; there is an intoxicating climate of celebration, spontaneity and diversity, a far cry from the bureaucratic orderliness and decorum this housing estate, this city is so used to. Front stage, an animated little girl, about age 12 or 13, is singing a Hokkien song. She is in a pink tutu and a lycra blouse, her hair styled in a fashion way beyond her age, glitter in her hair and dark mascara on her eyelids. The strobe lights – rays of red, pink, blue, green and yellow – that burnish the stage enhance her features, causing her to look larger and louder than life. Later, an older performer, just as effervescent, enters the stage and speaks to the audience in a fluid and mellifluous mix of Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay and Singlish – she is wishing them well and

telling them how life should be lived simply, and contentedly – these sounds segue smoothly into each other, creating a language that is hardly heard these days in Singapore, a language that is colloquial, intimate, unsanitized, real: a complete contrast to the homogeneous blocs of English and Mandarin we hear on national television, carved neatly into Channel 5 and Channel 8. Like a song, this intermingling of tongues vivifies the night, singing a tune that has been long lost to linguistic modernization – language policies which have wiped the slate of dialects clean – in this country; a tune resurrected only once a year for very special, otherworldly guests. Like these guests, these tunes too are ghosts which are allowed to roam freely only once a year, during a festival that is at once laden with reverence and carnival. Rows and rows of chairs are lined up back to back in the audience section; the area is packed with spectators, but the front row seats are conspicuously empty, not because they do not have any occupants but because the spectators seated there are invisible, spectral. It seems like the ghosts are not only able to enjoy endless meals but a mesmerizing visual and auditory banquet as well. Though my block is some distance away, I am able to hear the effortless, flexible switching of tongues, the euphonic syllables of songs in Hokkien and Cantonese – an organic permeation of sounds that ring across the urbanized but organized clutter of my HDB estate. In the flurry of this activity, something else is cooking, though very quietly. It is also Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer for the Muslims. The ghosts are having a field day feasting, but the Muslims maintain a disciplined routine, at least for this month of the Islamic calendar, of restraint, of fasting. Both ghosts and Muslims, I suppose, are hungry, ravenous even; both ghosts and Muslims however feast and fast together. Both activities seem to have absolutely nothing in common but at the heart of it all, both are so similar because they are spiritual in nature, buttressed and motivated by a world beyond the human realm. One encourages abundant enjoyment while the other cultivated control, a kind of

asceticism; yet, both are also manifestly practices that involve the entire community. As the night deepens, the getai performance winds down. The flames from the bins fade to cool, and the cinders gradually lose their sparks. Ash is strewn on the road, flits gently with the night breeze. People return to their units; doors, which were open throughout the day, begin to close, one by one. Lights from each unit flicker on and then off, to close the night. Nevertheless, some lights remain switched on and between midnight to 4am, I am able to smell the aroma of curry, rice and deep-fried chicken, this time by the Muslims who are preparing to break fast the moment the sun rises. Some clanging is heard from the units below me, pots and pans, ladles and woks are beginning to stir with life, the maciks taking advantage of the silence of the night to fill the void in their stomachs; voices cackle with excitement and voraciousness; voices of children anticipating their first and last meal of the day, voices of adults calming them down. It smells like lunch, but the sky is still dark. Tomorrow, when the sun rises, the activity will resume, again. I turn off my light and crawl into bed while so many of my Muslim neighbours are only starting their day, their own diurnal cycle. The ghosts are still out, roaming, eating whatever’s left of the food offered to them on altars and pavements – private and public shrines erected by the living. I’m not sure if they’ll be full; after all they only have a month where their hunger can be satiated. I leave my windows open, warm though this August night is and the smell of food being cooked wafts into my room. In a few hours, another kind of feasting will begin. It is rare when different calendars – the Chinese and the Islamic – come together in an anomalous but fortuitous alignment of stars, a complex pattern, betokening a new motion of contradistinctive but concurrently moving cycles. This year, 2012, and this month in particular, the unintended confluence of calendars determine a

rush of human activity that has enlivened and changed the usual routine of my otherwise relatively quiet estate. There is a mĂŠlange of sounds, a parade of smells, a composition of sights, all fitted together in a special month such as this when ghosts and people share the urban space, say hello, feast and fast.

~ Chew Yi Wei

Yiwei is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of English Language and Literature (Theatre Studies), National University of Singapore. She has been published in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Transnational Literature, Eastlit and the Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies.

Announcements ______________________________________________________________________

1. BOOK CLUB SERIES! ~ The NUS Literary Society will resume its regular book club sessions in Semester One (August – November) of academic year 2013/2014. The first title to be discussed will be ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Subsequent titles up for consideration include: - The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton) - The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) - His Dark Materials Trilogy (Philip Pullman) - Jonathan







Do consider reading any of these titles over the ‘summer’, and joining us for the corresponding sessions! – in fact, you’re more than welcome to participate out of curiosity, whether or not you have read the books. Details on session timings and venues will be released in due course on the NUS LitSoc Facebook page:!/groups/nuslitsoc/

_______________________________________________________ At Symbal, we value your feedback and would like to maintain a section featuring your letters to the editor. Should you have general comments on layout, aesthetics and how to make this magazine awesome, you may also write us at!

Announcements ______________________________________________________________________

2. CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Issue 7 (August 2013) This is not so much a ‘call’ as general notification, but…

Symbal is open for submissions 24/7, 365.25 days a year. We are privileged to serve as a platform for: -

Creative writing pieces from any conceivable genre or theme.


Commentaries and treatises on the literary arts and scene.


Visual art, photography and photo-manipulation.


Anything related to the above may be considered really; but kindly liaise with us first.

Our writers can be: -

NUS undergraduate as well as graduate students


Students of any local tertiary institution


Tertiary students pending matriculation


National Servicemen


NUS staff

For submission details, please take note of our guidelines in the

following pages. As always, the editorial team can be reached at <>, or the Symbal Facebook page. We thank you for your interest in our publication.


Submission Guidelines Submission of Literary Works Symbal welcomes works from NUS undergraduate and graduate students, staff, students from other tertiary institutions (local junior colleges, polytechnics, ITEs, and other universities) and even those who are serving their national service. Unlike other publications, we welcome any kind of work that is of literary value regardless of whether it is poetry, prose, dramatic extract, commentaries or treatises. Due to space constraints, however, we would like the writers to observe the following guidelines: Poetry – Any form of poetry is welcomed but do keep it within two pages of a Word document. Longer submissions will be given secondary priority. Prose – Any genre is acceptable, but try to keep the word count between 500-4000. We will consider longer or shorter pieces, but these will be given secondary priority. If you would like to submit a much longer piece such as a novella, please provide us with a summary of your work (and the full text, if possible). Do bear in mind that your piece will be serialised, with the content spread between a number of issues. Dramatic Extract – It should consist of no more than 4 scenes. It is advisable that the scenes should for the most part be able to stand on their own (i.e. the reader should be able to make out what is generally going on as well as the relationship(s) between the characters). Of course, if you would like to submit a monologue, you are more than welcome to do so.

Submission Guidelines Commentaries/Treatises: Kindly keep to the word limit of 4000 words. Do note that your submission must be relevant to the literary arts; expositions on a particular book/author, commentaries on the state of literature in the education system / country, or even reflections on a particular literary event are accepted. As we aim to give budding writers a platform to showcase their works, we will accept submissions that have already been published or entered in competitions as long as they do not contravene any guideline of the other party. Do note that it is your sole responsibility to ensure this. Should we come to the knowledge that you have contravened the guidelines of another publication or organisation, we will remove your work immediately. By the same token, you are free to submit the same work to other publications or competitions as long as the other party is agreeable to it. Symbal reserves first serial and anthology rights. We may also consider publishing your work in other mediums, but will contact you in advance for approval. We will not publish or modify your work without seeking your consent.

When to Submit Symbal is a quarterly publication, and is always open for submissions. However â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if you would like us to consider your piece for a particular issue â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is recommended to send it at least a month before that issue is due for release. This will give our editors time for reviewal and compilation. We will then reply you with regard to whether your work has been approved for publication. Unfortunately, space restrictions may still prevent us from doing so until a subsequent issue.

Submission Guidelines # Submission of photographs/illustrations What is a magazine without some pictures or illustrations? If you would like an avenue to showcase your artistic abilities, we will be delighted to help! All forms of photos, drawings and paintings are welcome. However, do bear in mind that Symbal currently lacks a dedicated section for the featuring of visual art. Unless you have submitted creative writing or a descriptive passage to complement the piece, it will be published in a given issue only if space permits, or if it is relevant to an already featured theme or work. However, do check back on the submission guidelines from time to time as there may be a section calling for visual art / photography in the future. Submitting an image to us will be an indication of your agreement to grant us the rights to retain it (you will still be credited when it is used). Your work will not be edited without permission; however it may be rotated, flipped, or resized.

How to Submit Send all your works to The subject title should be prefaced as follows: “Submissions: <title of work>”. Please submit your works in the body of the email or in an attached word document (do note that PDF files will not be accepted). You are highly encouraged to append a short personal biography of about 50 – 100 words to the email. Should you have further enquiries, kindly write to us via the same email address and preface the subject heading with “Enquiries: <area of concern>”. We seek your cooperation in following this template so as to allow us to sort the mail easily. Thank you.

Issue Six  

Symbal Issue Six

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