by Claudia Tan
Title: Body Boundaries: The EtiquetteSG Anthologies Volume 1
Editors: Tania De Rozario, Zarina Muhammad, Krishna Udayasankar
Publisher: Ethos Books
Available at Ethos Books.
Body Boundaries is an anthology of words by twenty-seven women writers from Singapore. Comprising works of prose and poetry, the collection contains a smorgasbord of emotions, ranging from coming-of-age stories to authentic Singaporean experiences, on tales of the cities and streets, mothers and daughters. With a variety of writers, shaped by different experiences, this collection offers insight on life and breaks down barriers between public and private, exploring themes of sex and sexuality.
Categorised into three different themes, Cities Undressed, Being & Behaving, and In The Flesh, this book can serve as a light read or for an exploration for something deeper.
One poem that stood out is WordSpokes by Ovidia Yu, a well-known local playwright. “Who knows better, Marmee or you!” is probably something that most of us have heard before when our mothers nag at us to study harder or to be better behaved. And it is stories like this with the local flavour that strikes close to home and forces us to reflect on the little things in life.
With our knowledge of literature being shaped by mostly male writers, it has always been difficult for women to write anything without being limited by frameworks of inequality and privilege, without making them sounds cliched and feminist.
However, Judith Huang’s Womanifesto has nailed this in its head perfectly. “We will not need Women’s Rights they will be Rights. We will not need Women Writers they will write.”
The collection is the first volume of a series by EtiquetteSG, a multidisciplinary platform dedicated to developing and showcasing art, writing, film and music created by women in Singapore, so do look out for their call for submissions for their next volume if you are interested to contribute.