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A Walk With My Pig

Publisher: Ethos Books
  • Description
  • Praise
  • About the Author & Editor
  • Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Gwee Li Sui

    A Walk With My Pig is Mervin Mirapuri’s unfinished magnum opus, seen for the first time. He composed this poem in the period following his and his family’s migration to Australia from Singapore in the late 1980s.

    The immigrant psyche – fraying thoughts, fluctuating emotions, and ranging personas – shows up the inadequacy of frameworks intended to help us find meaning amid the complexities of change. In this epic poem, the immigrant journeys between existence and obligations, mobilising the meanings of family and religion for bearing.

    Through everyday snapshots and a cacophony of voices, A Walk With My Pig navigates a marketplace of relationships and transactions, bigotry, our obsession with greed, excess, status, and control. What is a life worth living? How are we shaped by opportunities presented, taken or lost? What is relevant in the overall pattern of things? A Walk With My Pig disrupts our perceptions, biases, and perspectives, what we have come to assume as norms.

  • “Mervin Mirapuri’s A Walk With My Pig is that rarest of poetic artifacts: at a time when popular tastes and attention spans favour bite-sized verse, it is a long poem in six parts, and posthumously reassembled as a collaborative and archival labour of love from both the poet’s family and a publishing team. That is to say, this 100-page long poem was written outside the pressures of publication, and A Walk With My Pig takes significant risks with voice, allusion, form and meaning best appreciated in association with the extensive footnotes as furnished.

    What is most enjoyable about Pig is its unfettered stylistic ambition, and its ur-form is the song for its chorus of aphorisms, and its continuous phrasal variations on Singlish and Australian colloquialisms. Like Mirapuri’s first poetry collection, Eden 22 (1974), Pig liberally employs and reconfigures biblical phraseology except that in such an extended piece, the overall effect is that of a prismatic litany in ‘the great words of the great dead pig.’ Filled with startling and surreal imagery juxtaposing soul and body, Pig’s poetic ancestors are nonsense poetry, Stevie Smith and possibly The Wasteland.”
    —Ann Ang, writer and literary researcher, Burning Walls for Paper Spirits

    “The pig in the title is a metaphor for the Singlish-spouting nouveau riche with an insatiable FOMO.”
    —Eric Tinsay Valles, Singapore Literature Prize-nominated poet, award-winning editor at the Illumination Christian Book Awards

    “Mirapuri’s vantage point is as something akin to a prophet, observing and discerning and decrying matters of moral objection. Mirapuri’s poem inscribes itself within a grander prophetic tradition. A prophet is not without their fears and frustrations, hopes and disappointments, but a prophet continues their work of truth-telling out of obedience to a divine master. The discovery and reconstruction of Mirapuri’s poem is a remarkable achievement, one that Singapore, as well as Australia, will be all the better for.”
    Jonathan Chan, poet, critic and Managing Editor at

    “Since time immemorial, the pig has suffered an ignominious reputation—‘lazy,’ ‘greedy’ and ‘dirty’ have been tossed around as epithets. A Walk With My Pig is a highwire act pivoted on bravado and pathos, tapping on negative connotations and injustices dealt to the creature to reflect the inequalities and disparities the poet witnesses on the global stage and on a more intimate, personal level. Fusing memoir, news headlines, political diatribe and religious introspection, Mervin Mirapuri throws formal and stylistic conventions out the window and hurls himself head-on into an epic narrative of Dante-esque proportions. Salvaged from obscurity by Gwee Li Sui’s forensic curation, the words, zigzagging between ideas and references, feel completely alive, very raw, and unapologetically so. How does one navigate this mortal coil we call existence then? ‘Some looking for themselves without a mirror/ Some looking for themselves through a mirror,’ goes one of the ambivalent zingers in this poetic bildungsroman of sorts—it’s as if the writer is trying to encapsulate not only his own lifetime, but ours too.”
    —Yeow Kai Chai, One to the Dark Tower Comes (2022 Singapore Literature Prize)

    A Walk With My Pig reads like an epic poem—vast, sweeping and ambitious, both in scale and style—charting multiple journeys in which answers are never promised but often well-earned. Within the frenzied worlds of Pig, it is hard to tell where one speaker ends and another begins, if at all, yet the questions of responsibility, freedom and success that lie at the heart of Mirapuri’s poetic project remain urgent even today. What might the good life—a life worth living, a life lived well—look like? How can we get there? Or perhaps we have already arrived? These are questions Pig demands that we contemplate. An excavation project twofold, Pig boldly returns a forgotten poet to our literary memory, while carving out space for the contradictions and complexities of living, in order to make way for joy.”
    —Laetitia Keok, writer and editor

    “It is a rare stroke of fortune when we are able to recover a life from the past—especially one till now so hidden from the public eye, and yet so full of resonances with Singapore’s own journey, as Mervin Mirapuri’s. What forms the raw material of this poem, from Mirapuri’s early creative forays and a foundering business venture, to a late career switch and emigration, is the stuff of so many Singaporean stories. Gwee has restored a shimmering, shape-shifting quality to the text, allowing us to appreciate its many allusions—by turns startlingly earthy or divine. Importantly, though, Gwee has also preserved the text’s essential mystery, allowing this dream-journey to eclipse the bureaucratic boredom and ache of unfulfillment that plagued Mirapuri’s later years. ‘Go fix your eyes,’ Mirapuri tell us, ‘you might then look but still not see.’ Ultimately, this is a text to be journeyed with, a cipher to the essential unknowability of another’s quest. Can we find it in ourselves to walk with those whom we do not know, might never know? Mirapuri has the answer: ‘Just hold my hand and walk with me.’”
    —Theophilus Kwek, poet and editor

  • Mervin Mirapuri was born in Singapore on 6 October 1945. Writing was the way he processed the world and explored his mind and emotions. Early publications in school literary magazines and at the University of Singapore preceded Eden 22, his 1974 publication. Mervin had successful careers in the Singapore Armed Forces and in both the private and public sectors. In 1987, he migrated to Australia with his family. Mervin passed away on 6 May 2020, leaving behind his beloved wife Elizabeth, their children Dawn, Ann, and Tristan, and six grandchildren. His unpublished manuscripts were found neatly compiled in his bedside cabinet.

    Gwee Li Sui the editor of this publication, is a poet, a graphic artist, and a literary critic. His works include seven poetry books, the latest being This Floating World; graphic novels such as Myth of the Stone; non-fiction titles such as FEAR NO POETRY! and Spiaking Singlish; and Singlish translations of works by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Beatrix Potter, the Brothers Grimm, and A. A. Milne. He has also edited several acclaimed literary anthologies.

ISBN: 9789811879357
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 144
Year Published: 2023
Size: 210mm x 148mm
Language: English