MEET THE POETS
Singapore’s World Cup poet is Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. The recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize and Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, among other awards, he also has a theology masters (world religions) from Harvard and fine arts masters (creative writing) from Notre Dame. His work spans various genres —ethnography, journalism, poetry, and creative nonfiction: ‘I’ve come to realise,’ he says, ‘that… I was meant to work across artistic media. The hats are all funky to wear, and life is a grand party.’
Mehvash Amin is currently editor-in-chief of HELLO! Pakistan, and was editor of lifestyle magazine Libas International for 11 years. Her poetry has been published in an anthology, ‘Tangerine in the Sun’, and in a number of international magazines, including Vallum and Sugar Mule. ‘Karachi’, the poem chosen to represent Pakistan in the Poetry World Cup, was among The Missing Slate’s Pushcart nominees last year.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Singapore began with a resounding win over China, with Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s prose poem finishing 48 votes ahead of Changming Yuan’s ‘Y: An Alphabetic Allusion’. Pakistan faced tough opposition in Ghana’s Kwame Dawes, regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation. In the highest-scoring game of the round, Mehvash Amin’s poem came through by 98 votes to 70.
Singapore’s game with Cyprus was covered by the national press in both countries, and there was very little to separate the two poems until late in the voting. Singapore eventually won by 34 votes, recording the highest score of the round. Controversially, Pakistan received a walkover to the quarter-finals after Ireland’s Anatoly Kudryavitsky withdrew, stating that he felt his poem had no chance of winning.
Pakistan were pushed very close by Scotland’s Ryan Van Winkle, ultimately finishing 23 votes ahead in the most tightly-contested of the quarter-finals. Singapore never looked in serious danger of going out during a relatively comfortable victory over Trinidad & Tobago, with Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s poem ending 70 votes in front of Vahni Capildeo’s.
Based on previous vote totals, Singapore were expected to win fairly comfortably against Tunisia, but found themselves behind as voting passed the halfway point. After retaking the lead overnight, they never looked back and ended 54 votes ahead. Pakistan were up against Bryan Thao Worra’s poem ‘Dreamonstration’, representing Laos. In the highest-scoring game of the Poetry World Cup so far, Pakistan won by 402 votes to 265, booking their place in the final.