The Planners Boey Kim Cheng by Andrew Annear and Edward Scrimgeour
- Boey Kim Cheng was born in Singapore in 1965. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees in English Literature from the National University of Singapore.
- Worked for some time in America as a probation officer
- Disillusioned with the state of literary and cultural politics in Singapore, Boey left for Sydney with his wife in 1996.
- in Australia, Boey completed his Ph.D. studies with the University of Macquarie. Boey is currently an Australian citizen and teaches creative writing at the University of Newcastle. Literary History
In 1987, Boey won first prize at the National University of Singapore Poetry Competition while studying as an undergraduate.
Aged 24, he published his first collection of poetry(Somewhere- bound). it went on to win the National Book Development Councils (NBDCS) Book Award for Poetry in 1992.
His second volume of poems Another Place received the commendation award at the NBDCS Book Awards.
In 1995, Days Of No Name, which was inspired by the people whom he met in the United States, was awarded a merit at the Singapore Literature Prize.
In recognition of his artistic talent and contributions, Boey received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 1996.
Boey produced his fourth volume of poetry in 2006. After the Fire deals primarily with the passing of his father in 2000.
Boey’s works have also appeared in many poetry anthologies
The Planners Boey Kim Cheng
- The disillusionment of the artist and the intellectual for the supposedly soulless path of technological progress and industrialization.
- the discomfort of the artist with mundane, everyday life and with science-driven, apparently heartless modernist progress
- Different interpretations of progress. Some treasure scientific progress and others culture growth
- The plans become the facade of culture, their form of escapism
- History cycles, what is the planners dream today, will be removed by the next generation coming along.
- Characterises planning as solving a mathematical problem. “permutations” can be seen to offer many options or seen as confined compared to infinite arrangements in nature. “gridded” describes the layout as well of implying that creativity is confined, boxed in.
- Planning is seen as a way of shutting out nature attempting to remove the uncertainty it brings. “the sea draws back and the skies surrender.” can be viewed with a touch of irony implying that nature is afraid of human expansion, giving it an attribute nature can not/does not possess.
- Describes what the planners do. Giving the image of everything in prefect order “meet at desired points”
- The author excludes himself, from the planners through repeating “they” (twice) although every person plays their role in the collective city. This also views them objectively making them appear harsh, thinking and organised, but without love or compassion.
- Alliteration: “skies surrender
- Imagery of dentistry, an exact science. “dental dexterity”, “gaps are plugged with gleaming gold”, “wears perfect rows of shining teeth”
- The dentist imagery moves onto “anaesthesia” and the numbing of pain associated with dentistry
- “drilling” can provide a link between the metaphor and the actual actions of the planners.
- Moves away from describing the planners goals, and more towards how they are viewed.
- Alliteration: “dental dexterity” “gleaming gold”
- “They have it all so it will not hurt, so history is new again. “ the implication is that history hurts people and that the scars of the past remain, and humans are constantly trying to heal the pains of the past.
- “blueprint” linking to construction plans.
- Blood imagery: “bleed” “single drop” “stain” negative diction, creates a stark ending to the poem.
- “would not bleed poetry” gives the idea that art is not part of the modern expansionist city building, ironic as part of a poem
- Gives the idea that The reality lapses behind the dreams of the planners. Seldom coming into fruition the exact pristine way they envisage.
- Negatives used throughout poem: “not a single…” “the piling will not stop” “it will not hurt” “they build and will not stop”. Gives the idea that the poet wants the opposite to take place
- The poet appears Sceptical about the benefits of the planners progress, and fears for the wider implications of their actions. Seeing them as damaging the past and reducing the quality of the future.
Comparison: ‘city planners’ by Magaret Atwood
- Both opening stanzas revolve a round precision and accuracy “pedantic rows… Rational… Straight” and “alignment… Desired points”
- Both depict the city and the planning of it as unfeeling. “neatly sidestep hysteria…same slant of avoidance… two fixed stare of the wide windows…” and “drilling through the fossils of last century”
- What Atwood describes as “the sanities” can be seen as the ways to remove the pain.
- Atwood envisions the collapse of the city where as Cheng discusses the destruction of the remains of past cities.
- Both deal with the suppression of nature, one depicts the city controlling natures existence and the others views the boundaries of nature pulling back. “the planted sanitary trees… Discouraged grass” and “the seas draw back… Skies surrender”