Excess Baggage and Claim


ISBN: 978-0-9750228-5-6 Format: Trade Paperback Rights: World Release / Publication Date: 01 /03 /2007


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.

Terry Jaensch is an Australian poet/actor and monologist.

His first book of poetry Buoy (FIP) was shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award by the Fellowship of Australian Writers.

He has worked as Writer-in-Community, Poetry Editor (Cordite) Artist-in-Residence, Dramaturge, Artistic Director of the 2005 Emerging Writers’ Festival, poetry teacher and in a variety of arts/community and local government programming positions.

In 2004 he wrote and recorded 15 monologues based on his childhood in a Ballarat orphanage for ‘Life Matters’ ABC Radio.

He was awarded an Asialink residency in Singapore where, with poet Cyril Wong, he co-authored the volume Excess Baggage & Claim (Transit Lounge).

He has won awards including the Melbourne Poet’s Union International Poetry Prize, the Victorian Writers’ Centre Poetry Slam and was on the winning team of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival Poetry Slam.

His work has been anthologised, most recently in Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher and Wattmann) and published in journals nationally and in the US, Germany, Japan, Singapore and India.

His poems have been translated into Korean, Bengali, Russian and interpreted as classical Indian dance.

In 2011 he presented at the Seoul International Forum for Literature as part of an Australia/Korea poetry exchange facilitated by Asialink and Cordite. He has trained as an actor, having studied at the Herbert Berghof Studio and Stella Adler conservatory in New York.

Cyril Wong is the author of seven poetry collections, including tilting our plates to catch the light (firstfruits 2007) and Excess Baggage & Claim (Transit Lounge 2007).

He has received both the Singapore Literature Prize (2006) and the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature (2005) in his country. His poems have appeared in Chinese Erotic Poems (Everyman’s Library 2007) and Language for a New Century (W. W. Norton 2008), as well as in journals like Atlanta Review and Poetry International.

More at cyrilwong.wordpress.com

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