Guest Foreword
Jon Gresham

“… she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.”

– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Given all that’s going on in the world, ‘Wonderland’ is an apt, contrarian choice for this Unseen’s theme. Thank you Dominic, for inviting me down the whole of Issue Four. I have a great deal of empathy with your parenthetic, White Rabbit cry – ‘(we try doing too many things!)’ – and am enchanted to be your Queen of Hearts.

Rather than dwell on the anxiety of these times, let us stay execution for the moment, so you, dear reader, may gather your sky-blue, cotton dress, frilly-white pinafore and long blonde tresses to fall into Issue Four’s discussion of feminism, food, the self and other worlds.

Enjoy being ravished by Ainne Frances dela Cruz’s cat, as she touches on tales of men consuming hearts. Turn to Wayne Tan’s frolic through gender identity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I do agree with his Anti-Trumpian conclusion that the monster cannot eat the female. If only real life resembled this Wonderland. On the topic of eating and food, Tan Jia Hui lays out a banquet of analysis in her take on the literary significance of meals in Dickens’ Great Expectations.

Being of pale visage and a naturally dour disposition, I am possessed with an irrational fear of horses and have no desire to ride the sun. However, S’s chariot racing through ‘I think I Understand Phaeton’ is a delight. Also, shining more light than darkness is Victoria Chanel Lee’s Light and Darkness in Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market. My only questions: is their fruit cheap, or what, and do they have a branch at Vivo City?

Exploring the feminine centre of The Duchess of Malfi is Marie-Therese Pang on jewellery analysed through cultural materialism. Lee Russell’s protagonist finds light, colour and wonder in a book within his story The World Inside Our Pages. Ang Kia Yee examines women ‘elevated to a space usually occupied by men’ in her comparison of discourses on the collapse of feminism  in “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” and Lu Xun’s “Diary of a Madman”. The last lines to these two stories are relevant to our White Rabbit (“Now there would be time for everything.”) and also Wonderland parents (“Save the children…”). Ivan Sim takes us on a pilgrimage full of insight and humour through the unseen, and ends up in hope of a ‘respectable’ Wonderland with his mother in the next room playing the Piano Man.

Rounding out Issue Four is Delphie Yap’s award winning essay ‘What Makes Me Who I Am’. To be frank I wouldn’t worry to much about finding this elusive concept: ‘identity’. Let me tell you straight it’s a chimera. Identity and home aren’t concepts you find; they are something you create, something you be through action. Home is nothing more than the place where you love and are loved. That’s what you find when you follow your White Rabbit down a hole. Wonderland.

Jon Gresham‘s debut collection of short stories, We Rose Up Slowly, was published by Math Paper Press in 2015. His writing has appeared in various anthologies and literary journals including In Transit: An Anthology from Singapore on Airports and air Travel,  From The Belly Of The Cat, Eastern Heathens, the mono-titular anthology Coast, and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.

Jon is also a Director and Treasurer of the Singaporean literary community, Sing Lit Station, and leads the Writing the City Creative Writing Workshop at Toa Payoh Library each month.

He also takes photos and blogs at

Editor’s Foreword
There is a lot to be anxious about today in 2017, even as Mahon urges us to acceptance and calm. From the threads of global politics to our individual local lives, we jump easily on what is amiss. But we forget sometimes how our frustrations and anxieties are borne from seemingly lighter moods: of hope, of fantasies, of Wonderlands.
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5 Poems
[Creative] In these five poems, Ainne Frances dela Cruz expresses a sympathetic sensibility, drawing the reader from observation to affective spaces.
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[H1] In this essay, Wayne Tan explores critical issues of gender identity set within a parable of humanity’s confrontation and breaching of the limits of nature.
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A Feast For the Senses
[H2] Not only are meals significant in bringing out central themes in the novel such as family, social class, as well as charting the moral growth and development of the protagonist Pip, Tan Jia Hui observes how food is symbolic in defining various aspects of love, desire, social ambition, want, gratitude, charity, and sundry moral values.
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[Creative] What is a grieving man supposed to do? This story draws you into the fantastic world of Greek mythology at first glance but quickly weaves it into our real world without reprise. Heartbreaking yet riveting, it chronicles a man’s self-discovery in his musings and leaves a reader reeling from the final blow.
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[H2] Victoria Chanel Lee’s analysis of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” explores the ambiguity of evil and temptation through binaries presented in the poem. In the essay, Lee juxtaposes themes of light and darkness, day and night, and fire and ice in highlighting the spectrum of morality.
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[H1] “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust / Like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.” Marie-Therese Pang‘s essay considers John Webster’s seminal work, the Duchess of Malfi, from within the framework of cultural materialism.
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[Creative] Lee Russell‘s simple but uplifting tale merges elements of fantasy with the too-real problems of Singapore’s education system. His story raises questions about the efficacy of our education system, what the point of studying is, and the beauty of literature – questions most, if not all, literature students have had to grapple with at some time.
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[Discussion] Ang Kia Yee traces the feminist energetics in both Katherine Anne Porter’s ‘Pale Horse, Pale Rider’ and Lu Xun’s ‘Diary of a Madman’, before unravelling how the patriarchal associations of women with caretaking and madness respectively are defied and inverted, only for both narratives to violently “resume hegemonic gender conventions”.
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Unseen Poetry
[Creative] Part pastiche, part serious mulling over what it means to study literature, Ivan Sim‘s essay manages to convey a student’s struggle with the commonly-feared unseen poems.
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[Creative] Delphie Yap‘s “What Makes Me Who I Am” is a heartfelt reflection on personal identity. Throughout the essay, Yap interweaves ruminations on teenage desires and materiality into a deeply personal narrative on growing up and finding a place “in this big, complicated world”.
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