Wong, Phui Nam 1935-
Wong, Phui Nam 1935-
(Phui Nam Wong)
Born September 20, 1935, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Education: University of Malaya, Singapore, B.A. (honors).
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Skoob Books, Skoob Russell Square, Woodhill Farm, Willow Marsh Lane, Yoxford, Suffolk IP17 3JR, England.
Writer, poet, economist, government official. Industrial Development Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, assistant controller. Also worked as an economist in Thailand in numerous positions, including MIDF, a private company, and the Malaysian International Merchant Banking Ltd. New Straight Times, columnist; training and marketing consultant for private company. Taught briefly at a private college.
How the Hills Are Distant (poetry), Tengarra, Department of English, University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), 1968.
Remembering Grandma and Other Rumors, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Singapore (Singapore), 1989.
Ways of Exile: Poems from the First Decade, Skoob Books (Yoxford, Suffolk, England), 1993.
Poems have appeared in anthologies, including Bunga Emas, The Second Tongue, The Flowering Tree, Young Commonwealth Poets '65, and Poems from India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaya; poems have appeared in journals, including Tengarra, Tumasek, South East Asian Review of English, and Westerly; author has translated selected poems by Latiff Mohidin.
An economist and financial adviser by trade, Wong Phui Nam is also among the first generation of Malaysian poets to write in English. He began writing poetry in the 1960's; and his first volume, How the Hills Are Distant, was published in 1968. According to Rajeev S. Patke in a literature critique appearing on the University of Singapore Web site, the author's early poetry is representative of a new generation of Malaysian poets who were "oriented towards a symbolist and mythopoeic poetry." Wong's poems often explore the intricacies of life in a multi-culturally diverse place such as Malaysia. Following his first book, the author published intermittently in various journals. His next full collection, Remembering Grandma and Other Rumors was published more than twenty years after his initial offering. A contributor to the Victorian Personalities Web site noted: "His mature poems are regarded as among the best Malaysian poems in English, unsurpassed in their eloquence and linguistic richness. Most of them are contemplative and draw their images from the local landscape." Commenting on the collection titled Ways of Exile: Poems from the First Decade, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore contributor Eddie Tay noted that the Chinese ancestry of the author has lead him to experience a "condition of mental exile." Tay went on to write: "As an agent of cross-cultural engagement, that which is unhomely in the poetry of Wong Phui Nam probes, interrogates and finally unsettles boundaries that seek to contain the nation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bennett, Bruce, editor, Myths, Heroes and Anti-Heroes: Essays on the Literature and Culture of the Asia-Pacific Region, Center for Studies in Australian Literature, University of Western Australia (Nedlands, Australia), 1999. pp. 71-80.
Nightingale, Peggy, editor, A Sense of Place in the New Literatures in English, University of Queensland (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1986, pp. 132-142.
Vinson, James, Contemporary Poets, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1975.
Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, October, 2001, Eddie Tay, "Unsettling Ways of Exile: The Unhomely in the Poetry of Wong Phui Nam."
Span, April, 1987, "The Discourse of Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Singapore and Malaysia in the 50s and 60s," pp. 136-150.
Yemen Times, April 12-14, 2004, Murari Prasad, "Wung Phui Nam: A Fascinating English."
University of Singapore Web site,http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/ (June 19, 2006), Rajeev S. Patke, "Poetic Beginnings," and "The Poet in Malaysia: Wong Phui Nam, Muhammad Hami Salleh."
Victorian Personalities,http://viweb.freehosting.net/viperson.htm/ (June 19, 2006), "The Poetry of Wong Phui Nam."