Robert Yeo

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Robert Yeo
Robert Yeo at Select Books, Singapore - 20140111-01 (cropped).jpg
Yeo giving a talk in January 2014
Born Robert Yeo Cheng Chuan
1940 (age 76–77)
Occupation Poet, playwright and novelist
Language English
Nationality Singaporean
Ethnicity Chinese
Notable works The Adventures of Holden Heng (1986); Are You There, Singapore? (1974); One Year Back Home (1980); Changi (1996)
Notable awards BBM (1991), S.E.A. Write Award (2011)
Spouse Esther Leong

Robert Yeo (born Robert Yeo Cheng Chuan in 1940) is a Singaporean poet, playwright and novelist.


Yeo is a retired lecturer of the National Institute of Education and Nanyang Technological University. At present[when?] he is a teacher of creative writing at the Singapore Management University and mentors the Mentor Access Programme of the National Arts Council. In 1978, he attended the University of Iowa's International Writing Program and was a Fulbright Scholar in 1995.[citation needed] For more than a decade, from 1977 onwards, he was chairman of the Drama Advisory Committee which helped develop theatre in Singapore, especially English-language theatre. For this work, he received the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star) in 1991, and was awarded the S.E.A. Write Award in 2011.

He has published four poetry collections: Coming Home Baby (1971); And Napalm Does Not Help (1977), A Part of Three (1989) and Leaving Home, Mother (1999) and has been included in several anthologies, including Five Takes (1974).

His venture into novel writing resulted in a sole book: The Adventures of Holden Heng (1986) about the sexual education of its anti-hero.

Yeo has written six plays: Are You There, Singapore? (1974), One Year Back Home (1980), Second Chance (1988), The Eye of History (1991), Changi (1996) and Your Bed is Your Coffin. All the plays except the last have been staged in Singapore. Are You There, Singapore?, One Year Back Home and Changi are collectively known as "the Singapore trilogy".

Yeo has also edited collections of short fiction, plays and textbooks, a memoir, as well as the libretto for an opera, Fences (2012).


Poetry collections[edit]



  • Are You There, Singapore? (1974, National University of Singapore Society)
  • One Year Back Home (1980, National University of Singapore Society)
  • Second Chance (1988, 1992, TheatreWorks)
  • The Eye of History (1992)
  • Your Bed is Your Coffin (Unstaged)
  • Changi (1997, National University of Singapore Society)
  • The Singapore Trilogy (2001, Landmark Books) ISBN 9813065508


  • Kannagi–The Ankle Bracelet (2009, 2014)
  • Fences (2012)



Personal life[edit]

Yeo is married to Esther Leong, who he met on the set of Are You There, Singapore? in 1974, when she played the character Hua after responding to an audition call in the newspapers.[1]


  1. ^ Tan, Corrie (1 October 2014). "Classic Singapore plays #2 - Are You There, Singapore?". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 October 2014.