"I strongly believe that reviewers are entitled to express their own opinions. Still, to me, this review was really way off. I was very, very surprised by how one-sided it was. In fact, I got the distinct feeling that the reviewer has some personal grudge against Mr Wang. Just my guess."
Virtually overnight, a small troop of Singapore writers also appeared on this blog, to find out what's been going on and/or to chip in with their two cents' worth. Actually I am slightly taken aback at how quickly they all popped up (I wonder how many of them might in fact be long-time lurkers here). The writers included Alvin Pang; Gwee Li Sui; Toh Hsien Min; Alfian Saat; Laremy Lee and Teng Qian Xi.
I was also told that the quality of the review (and presumably the merits of the book) are now being hotly debated on some Facebook group discussion. However, I am not privy to that.
Since the time the review came out, I have received a number of encouraging, supportive emails from friends. I appreciate this, but also expected it - that's what friends do for each other, right? What did surprise me was that a few people whom I've never met before also made the effort to contact me and share their thoughts. For instance, here's a nice email I received from Tammy Ho, a poetry editor in Hong Kong, relaying a message from one Bob Bradshaw, who lives faraway in California:
We at Cha read a review of Two Baby Hands at QLRS and felt that it was an unfair analysis. Bob Bradshaw (our former guest editor and regular contributor) has the following to say, for example:
"I don't recall seeing a more cruel review than Gilbert Koh has received at QLRS. Gilbert Koh is a fine poet. I haven't read the book, but I have enjoyed a number of his poems. I was appalled at the attack. Please pass along my feelings to Mr. Koh. He deserves much, much better! ...."
Anyway, we enjoy your poetry and we are sure many many others like your work."
At the moment, I am still feeling quite annoyed. But oh well, in the end, what's a review? One person's opinion. Life goes on.