Boey Kim Cheng

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Boey Kim Cheng (Chinese: 梅健青) (born 1965) is a Singapore-born Australian poet.[1]

He is of Chinese descent. As a student he won the National University of Singapore Poetry Competition and has since received the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award (1996). He teaches creative writing at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Early life[edit]

Boey Kim Cheng was born in Singapore in 1965. He received his secondary education at Victoria School and graduated with Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees in English Literature from the National University of Singapore. In 1993, he won a scholarship from the Goethe-Institut to pursue German Studies in Murnau. In 1994 he was sponsored by the United States Information Agency to attend the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Boey embarked on a doctoral program with the National University of Singapore which he later discontinued. He entered the workforce and was employed by the Ministry of Community Development as a probation officer.

Disillusioned with the state of literary and cultural politics in Singapore, Boey left for Sydney with his wife in 1997. He completed his PhD studies with Macquarie University. Boey is now an Australian citizen.

Literary career[edit]

In 1987, Boey won the first prize at the National University of Singapore Poetry Competition while studying as an undergraduate. At age 24, he published his first collection of poetry. Somewhere-bound[2] went on to win the National Book Development Councils (NBDCS) Book Award for Poetry in 1992. Two years later, 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. After a long hiatus, Boey returned with 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 anthologies like From Boys to Men: A Literary Anthology of National Service in Singapore, Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry and No Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry.

Boey's works are highly regarded by both the academic and writing communities in Singapore. Writer Shirley Lim remarked that he is the "best post-1965 English language poet in the Republic today", while Lee Tzu Pheng said: "I think he's the finest poet we've ever produced. The themes and existentialism of his writing, I've never seen anyone in Singapore who could write like that." His own sense of restlessness about his life in Singapore is reflected prevalently in his poems. According to him, Singapore's rapid growth and his swift economic success were achieved at a cost. His feelings of displacement and disconnection with the past occurred precisely because places where one experienced his or her sense of belonging, through his childhood is fastly disappearing.


  • Somewhere-bound (1989)
  • Another Place (1992)
  • Days of No Name (1996)
  • Losing Alexandria (Giramondo, 2003)
  • Calling the Poems Home (2004)
  • Plum Blossom or Quong Tart at the QVB (Melbourne University Press, 2005)
  • After the Fire: New and selected poems (2006)
  • Between Stations (Giramondo, 2009)
  • Clear Brightness ([Puncher & Wattmann], 2012)
  • "The Planners"


  1. ^ "Boey Kim Cheng". National Library of Singapore. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  2. ^ Book review: "Army poems and social satire", Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times 20 September 1989.

External links[edit]