twin cinema

The twin cinema is an invented poetic form that originated in Singapore. 

Contents

History

The first twin cinema was written by Yeow Kai Chai in the Jul 2010 issue of Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, entitled "Begone dull care". It was subtitled "twin cinema comprising bolts and nuts of unrelated scenes, some pilfered." Kai Chai has been mentioned as being inspired by John Ashbery's "Litany", a 65-page poem written in two columns, published in the 1979 collection "As You Know". The form was named after the 2005 album of the same name by the Canadian indie rock band The New Pornographers.

David Wong further explored this form in the titular poem of his debut collection, "For The End Comes Reaching". He added further definition and functionality to the form, defining it as being able to be read across or as two discrete columns. 

The form caught on during Singapore Poetry Writing Month 2016, despite not being a defined prompt. Numerous outstanding examples of the form were produced, as well as many technically challenging variants.

Structure

In its original form as developed by Yeow Kai Chai, the twin cinema consisted of two discrete columns of poetry. The columns were separate and did not read as a coherent line across both columns. Each individual line of a column contained imagery that could correlate or contrast to the opposing line of the other column. 

In its modern form as popularised by David Wong, the twin cinema must now be readable horizontally across both columns, as well as vertically down each discrete column. This is a more onerous constraint, but has provoked robust poetic responses that have risen to the challenge.

In contrast to the more pastiche-like nature of its origin, the modern twin cinema is often characterised by a dialogue between two opposing or agreeing voices in the vertical columns that reaches an uncertain harmony when read horizontally across. 

Variations

Twin cinema gained significant popularity in the poetry group SingPoWriMo (Singapore Poetry Writing Month) in 2016, and thus acquired multiple variants as it was merged or reused to answer different prompts.

- Jukebox twin cinema or twin centonema issued from a prompt requiring poets to assemble poetry from song lyrics.
- Meta-twin cinema issued from a trend of self-referentiality, where poets would assemble poems from their own or other poet's lines posted during the month.
- Triple and quad cinema were natural products of pushing the form to increasingly higher levels, with three and four discrete columns respectively. The lines should still be coherently readable even across the greater number of columns. 

Examples

  • The original piece by Yeow Kai Chai "Begone dull care" from QLRS.
  • David Wong's "For the end comes reaching" on QLRS.
  • Interview with David Wong on the twin cinema.
  • Unseen Magazine's publication of Al Lim's "won|der".
  • A twin cinema by an actual twin, Joses Ho, about "twincest".
  • An instructional twin cinema by Charlene Shepherdson on the form itself.
  • A merger of twin cinema and nucleus poems by Al Lim, on the ICA.
  • A jukebox twin cinema, "Meat is Murder", by Jerome Lim, assembled from lyrics.
  • A twin cinema by Joshua Ip on the family of Genghis Khan in Legend of the Condor Heroes.
  • A meta-twin cinema by Marc Nair - Arguments With Myself - assembled from lines from multiple poets during SingPoWriMo 16.
  • A meta-twin cinema by Ang Shuang, assembled from lines from Janice Heng and Ruth Tang, two notable poets during SingPoWriMo 16.
  • A twin cinema by Janice Heng on a brother and sister from a famous political family, which went viral on facebook with more than a hundred shares and five hundred likes.
  • A triple cinema by See Wern Hao referencing the same family with a third member.
  • A quad cinema by Janice Heng on a robot who wants to learn poetry.
  • A twin cinema by Joshua Ip on a sunday election.

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