Sunday, 13 November 2016

In Transit: An Anthology from Singapore on Airports and Air Travel

We are thrilled to announce that In Transit: An Anthology from Singapore on Airports and Air Travel is now available for your reading pleasure!

Singapore is small enough to fly over in three minutes, yet it is also home to two of the “world’s best”, Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines. This anthology presents 35 short stories, poems and essays inspired by our relationship with all things air travel-related, written by some of the most exciting voices in Singapore literature today.

Some stories and poems take place in Singapore, others in faraway places – and still others in the meditative space of an airplane cabin or in the mind. Travel with us from the bowels of Changi Airport up to cruising altitudes half a world away, and in the process, explore questions about travel, aspiration, belonging and home.

The book is available for S$19 at Books Actually, Kinokuniya and other bookstores in Singapore, as well as online (worldwide shipping available).

Our 29 contributors range from established poets and authors, to writers for whom this is their first published work. In alphabetical order: Boey Kim Cheng, Christine Chia, Jasmine Ann Cooray, Rodrigo V. Dela Peña, Jr., Benzie Dio, Jon Gresham, Philip Holden, Judith Huang, Joshua Ip, Kirat Kaur, Werner Kho, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Karen Kwek, Marc Nair, Ng Seow Hwee, Ng Yi-Sheng, Alvin Pang, Paul Tan, Jeremy Tiang, Toh Hsien Min, Tse Hao Guang, Cyril Wong, Daryl Qilin Yam, Jerrold Yam, JY Yang, Stephanie Ye, Yeo Wei Wei, Yeoh Jo-Ann and Yeow Kai Chai.

We launched the anthology at Books Actually in Singapore on 2 November 2016 (click here for photos by anthology contributor Jon Gresham). Anthology editors Zhang Ruihe and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, as well as contributors Philip Holden and Boey Kim Cheng, also participated in two lively panels at the Singapore Writers Festival on 11 and 13 November 2016.

We hope that our book will be read by people who are familiar with Singapore, but also by anyone who loves to travel (armchair travellers welcome!). If you have any queries, please email us.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Hello everyone,

It's done! We've emailed the decisions on our selections for the anthology, so those of you who sent work in should have heard from us by now. If you haven't, it's highly likely that something got lost in transit at some point, so please do drop us a line to enquire on the status of your submission.

We're aiming to publish the anthology by mid-2015. In the meantime, there's still work to be done (revisions, sequencing, etc etc), and we can't wait to get started on putting everything together.

Thanks once again to all of you for sharing your work with us, and we wish you all the very best in your writing journeys.


Saturday, 6 September 2014


Hello everyone,

September has come, and we're almost done with reviewing submissions and making our final selections. We will email our decisions to you sometime in the next few days. Thanks to all for your patience so far. It's going to be a wonderful anthology.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Thank you all!

A quick update from the editors now that the deadline has come and gone.
A big thank you to all of you who've sent in your work! Both of us are very much looking forward to reading your pieces, and getting started (finally!) on the next stage of this project.
Here's what you can expect from now till the end of August, when we will get back to all of you on whether we're using your piece for the collection.

1) You should have received by now an acknowledgement email in response to your submission. If you've sent us something and not yet received an acknowledgement, it probably means your piece got lost in the ether somewhere, so do let us know at

2) After we've decided on the pieces we're using for the collection, we may be corresponding with you to work on your piece further. It will of course be up to you to decide if you'd like to make any changes to your work. But we will cross that bridge if and when we get to it.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Lisa Cheong, our wonderful Editorial Assistant, who's been corresponding with all of you up till now, and who's helping us with the nitty-gritty things that need to be done so that we can focus on reading your submissions with the care they deserve.
Ok then. Till the end of August. Over and out.
Yu Mei and Ruihe

Monday, 17 February 2014

Call for submissions

Airports and airplanes are places of transit – where people meet, say goodbye, where life-paths cross, converge, diverge. In Singapore, the airport and the notion of air travel have a particular hold on our mobility and our imagination. Given Singapore’s tiny size, going abroad for work or pleasure, particularly by air, has become a relatively common experience. And over the years, Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines have become cultural icons, closely intertwined with our sense of national identity.
Unsurprisingly, then, many Singapore writers have shared a penchant for writing about air travel, literally and also as a powerful symbol of longing, aspiration, and home – or homelessness. In fact, there is already a small but significant body of published poems by Singapore writers involving airplanes and airports, which testifies to the potential for a wider conversation across genres and generations.
In this context, Math Paper Press and editors Zhang Ruihe and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow are seeking previously unpublished short stories, poems and creative nonfiction for an anthology of English-language literary writing, to be published in early 2015, tentatively titled In Transit. We are interested in writing from a Singapore perspective about airplanes, airports or anything related to air travel, either as literal subject matter or as metaphor.
Some prompts to consider, though this list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive:
  • What does it mean to live in and travel from a city-state so small, a commercial jet can overfly it in 3.25 minutes? Or a country often touted as having the world’s number one airport and number one airline?
  • What does it cost – in every sense of the word – to travel by air? What mobilities does air travel represent, in addition to geographical mobility?
  • Who (or what) flies in and out of Singapore, and why?
  • What place does the airport occupy in everyday life in Singapore?

Submissions should follow these guidelines:
  1. The work must address the theme of airports and/or air travel, with a perspective from Singapore. 
  2. Writers need not be Singaporean or residing in Singapore, but works should engage with or refer to Singapore in some way. 
  3. Short stories and creative non-fiction (essays/memoirs/travelogues) should be 2,000 to 5,000 words long. 
  4. For a working definition of what constitutes creative nonfiction, please refer to this overview that we have adapted from a post by Pooja Makhijani, the editor of another Math Paper Press anthology, Altogether Elsewhere. 
  5. Each poetry submission is limited to no more than three poems per writer. 
  6. Submissions must not have been published elsewhere, whether online or in print. 
  7. The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2014
  8. All submissions will be read anonymously. The title of the work and writer’s NRIC/FIN number must be indicated on the top right hand corner of each page of the manuscript. If you do not have a NRIC/FIN number, please contact us and we will assign you a serial number to use to identify your manuscript. No name, address or identifying marks other than the title and NRIC/FIN number should be indicated on the manuscript. 
  9. Send your work as an MS Word document (.doc) in Times New Roman font size 12 to, with your name and contact details in the body of the email. Prose submissions should be double-spaced. 
Writers whose works are selected for publication will receive an honorarium of $90 per short story/essay submission, or $60 per poetry submission. Each writer will also receive two copies of the published anthology and a 40% author discount on further copies.

About the Editors 

Zhang Ruihe works in education and has been involved in Singapore’s literary scene for over 10 years, serving as Essays Editor for the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS) from 2005 to 2009, and winning the Golden Point Award for English Poetry in 2013 with her group of poems, Nordic. Her work has been published in QLRS, Mascara Literary Review and Singa, and she has participated in writing programmes run by Singapore’s National Arts Council, the Arvon Foundation and the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded a grant by the Vermont Studio Center for a creative nonfiction residency in 2014.

Yu-Mei Balasingamchow lives in Singapore and writes about history, travel and culture in Asia. She is the co-author of the award-winning history title Singapore: A Biography (2009), and has covered Vietnam and Korea for Lonely Planet. In 2012, she was editor of POSKOD.SG, an online magazine with essays and critiques on Singapore culture. Her first published short story, “Lighthouse”, was selected for the inaugural Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories (2013). She is working on her first novel, with funding from Singapore’s National Arts Council.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

What is creative nonfiction?

"Creative nonfiction" is the name given to the so-called "fourth genre" of literary writing. It's not as new as it sounds -- people have been writing in the genre for centuries -- but the name is, indeed, relatively new. Here's a working definition that we've found very useful (and concise!), by our friend Pooja, who's the editor of another Math Paper Press anthology. We hope it will help clarify any questions that you may have regarding the kind of writing we're looking for.


What is Creative Nonfiction?
By Pooja Makhijani, for Altogether Elsewhere 
Reproduced and adapted with permission

One question that I have been asked more than once is: what exactly is creative nonfiction?

In short, creative nonfiction is the latest name for fact-based writing that includes literary journalism, essay (lyrical, personal, nature, environmental, travel, cultural, or graphic), memoir, and cultural criticism.

The genre "braids narrative telling with fictional and poetic techniques and combines portraiture and self-reflection with reportage and critical analysis." Above all, "creative nonfiction is based on actual events, characters, and places and is written with a special concern for language."

 My bookshelves are full of great examples of the genre--from The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion to The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi to Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama to back issues of The New Yorker and Harper's. But my personal library is largely US-centric.

So, I looked a bit closer to home. I asked and I searched and I browsed. Here are some of my "local" must-reads:


Other pieces by Singapore writers that we (Ruihe and Yu-Mei) recommend: