Poetry Shortlist | Singapore Literature Prize 2020

We are pleased to announce that Professor Edwin Thumboo’s poetry collection, A Gathering of Themes (Ethos Books, 2019), has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2020!

Professor Thumboo is one of Singapore’s foremost pioneer poets. After more than a decade since his last anthology, Still Travelling (Ethos Books, 2008), he brings to us a new work that features 109 poems, covering a wide range of topics including love, religion, history and nationhood.

In time his words fly. ‘A special moment’. We wish Professor Thumboo all the best!


The virtual awards ceremony is on 27 August 2020, 8pm. You can tune in to the ceremony on Facebook!

Find out more about the shortlisted titles here:

Get A Gathering of Themes here: https://www.ethosbooks.com.sg/products/a-gathering-of-themes

Read about the collection here: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/edwin-thumboo-releases-new-poetry-collection-at-age-85

The Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Prize 2019 – Poetry

We are very pleased to announce the results of the Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Competition 2019 – Poetry. Congratulations to the prize winners!


1st Prize ($10,000):   

Jedidiah HUANG for “When They Tell You About Heartbreak


2nd Prize ($6,000):    

Valen LIM Ray Zheng for “Narrative That Ends In Dust


3rd Prize ($4,000):

LIM Jia Ying for “Milk”


The prize winners will be notified by email and will be required to attend the Award presentation.  Details of the event will be provided closer to the date.

The biennial Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Prize was established by the late Dr Sylvia Goh with an endowed gift to the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore in memory and recognition of her late husband, Goh Sin Tub, who was one of Singapore’s best-known local writers.

Goh Sin Tub and Dr Sylvia Goh are both alumni of the University of Malaya (UM), one of NUS’ predecessor institutions. The Prize commemorates Goh Sin Tub’s life, achievements and support for education.

The genre for this Competition is Poetry. Subsequent competitions will feature other literary genres. The competition is open to all members of the NUS community at the time of submission of entry.

The closing date for the competition was 31 August 2019. Fifty-seven qualifying entries were received.

Judging Panels

The judges for the competition are Professor Rajeev Patke (Yale-NUS), Assoc Prof Ismail Talib (Department of English Language and Literature, NUS) and Mr P K Mathimugan (Class of 2019, English Literature at the Department of English Language and Literature, NUS).

The Inaugural Edwin Thumboo Prize 2019

The Inaugural Edwin Thumboo Prize 2019

The Department of English Language and Literature (DELL) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is pleased to announce a new prize for Pre-university students of English Literature.

The Edwin Thumboo Prize, named after one of Singapore’s most prominent poets and scholars, recognises works by outstanding A-level and International Baccalaureate (IB) students of English Literature in Singapore. It is administered by DELL with support from the Ministry of Education (MOE). The Prize is funded by generous donors, including patrons of the arts and former winners of the Angus Ross Prize.

About Professor Edwin Thumboo

Emeritus Professor Edwin Thumboo is one of Singapore’s earliest poets. An accomplished literary practitioner and critic, he dedicated his life to the composition and study of English Literature. His work is studied in schools, both locally and abroad, and featured in public places in Singapore. At NUS, Professor Thumboo has served as Head of the Department of English Language and Literature, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Director of the NUS Centre for the Arts. He has also received numerous awards, including the Book Award for Poetry in English (1978, 1980 and 1994), Southeast Asia Write Award (1979), The Cultural Medallion (March 1980), ASEAN Cultural and Communication Award for Literature (August 1987), Public Service Star (August 1991), the Meritorious Service Medal (2006), and Distinguished Service Award (2008).

About the Prize

The selection process for the Prize is rigorous and multi-faceted. Government pre-university institutions, including those offering the IB Diploma Programme, were invited to nominate one candidate each. The competition attracted entries from 10 Pre-university institutions.

Each school submitted a write-up on their recommended candidate, who also submitted a piece of academic writing (not more than 10 pages in length) on a literary text or topic.

Candidates will be assessed by a selection panel, comprising representatives from NUS and MOE, as well as former prize-winners. Each year’s winner will receive a monetary award of $200. Merit awards of $100 will also recognise deserving nominations.

The selection panel for this year’s Prize included Dr. Jane Nardin from Yale-NUS, and the 1997 Angus Ross Prize Winner, Mr. Aaron Maniam.

In identifying the winner, the selection panel looked particularly for an excellent grasp of the written word, and a sensitivity to its significance as a creative endeavour.

The winner of the Edwin Thumboo Prize 2019 is Mr. Gan Chong Jing from Raffles Institution. Mr. Gan impressed the panel with his outstanding essay on the theme of forgiveness in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Chong Jing’s work was subtle, elegant and demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the play. It navigated complex and rich ideas while displaying coherence, fluency and economy of expression. In addition, all interviewees were given the challenging task of critically analysing two unseen poems – one by a Singapore writer – that they were shown only 20 minutes before their interview. Chong Jing’s nuanced response was exemplary in its rigour, comprehensiveness and detail.

When informed of the results of the Prize, Chong Jing was quick to attribute his success to his family and teachers.

“I wouldn’t have gotten here without every single one of my literature teachers, who not only taught me everything I know but also showed me how to love the written word for all its depth and beauty. Neither would I be here without my parents, who read to me when I was too young to read, stocked a house full of books and filled my childhood with stories. I owe this to you all; thank you.”

Three Merit Prizes will also be awarded to Ms. Jane Lee Jia Hui from Dunman High School, Ms. Lim Yi Jun from River Valley High School, and Ms. Yew Jien Huey from Victoria Junior College.

Merit Prize Winners (from top): Jane Lee Jia Hui, Lim Yi Jun and Yew Jien Huey.

Associate Professor Michelle Lazar, expressed the Department’s gratitude to the donors who initiated and donated to the ET Prize which aims to promote excellence in the study of Literature at the pre-university level. She added, “We are very encouraged by the quality of the entries and the high level of critical thinking displayed in the essays.”

The prize-giving ceremony will be held on Friday, 26 April 2019 at NUS.