Written in the voices of two gay men—an Australian tourist and a Singaporean local—Excess Baggage and Claim shines with a bright lucidity. What makes this book so startling is not that these poems about difficult self-discovery are sometimes shocking, but that they rise out of darkness, and a sense of dislocation, with such tenderness and courage. This is an extraordinary collection of poetry—a masterful collaboration by Singapore Literature Prize winner Cyril Wong and Australian poet Terry Jaensch.
“These poems are odes to longing and desire, sung at 4am from the back bar of an impossible city where the borders have yet to be created and have yet to be dismantled. This is a shimmering, hard and beautiful collaboration.”
– Christos Tsiolkas, author of Dead Europe and Loaded.
“Jaensch’s always-deft phrasing and sense of metaphor twists the reader’s expectations and compels us to watch more closely; Wong’s candid, conversational style reveals the vagaries of faltering relationships and power plays. These characters take the microphone and sing; the confining world of their subculture setting the parameters for the universal lyrics of love and loss.”
– Cate Kennedy, author of Dark Roots and Sing, and Don’t Cry.
Like fugitives fleeing an unforgiving city, poets Cyril Wong and Terry Jaensch throw a long lingering look at the site of their banishment, proffering love letters tinged with anger and incomprehension.
June Cheong, The Sunday Times (Singapore).
Wong brings a knack for evoking emotion to the project which when combined with Jaensch’s ability to manipulate language and imagery, creates a collection of isolated pieces that form a collective sense of loneliness and searching.
Megan Smith, Out Magazine (Perth).
A collaboration between Aussie actor-poet Terry Jaensch and local poet Cyril Wong, Excess Baggage & Claim combines the richness of poetry with the accessibility of narrative … the book best read late at night, is a good choice if you’re looking for poignant , as well as juicy, erotic passages that evoke your past loves.
Ng Hui Hsien, IS Magazine (Singapore).
Excess Baggage & Claim is a dialogue; an affair; an engagement with senses and sensation. It is a revelation. It is both painful and beautiful. It is a romance – flawed, like so many romances – and a romance with literature, a love of words, carefully written and placed.
Richard Watts, Melbourne launch, fortyfivedownstairs, 4th June 2007.
Full speech available at: http://richard_watts.blogspot.com