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13-year-old girl writes complex poem that gives voice to S’porean students & Afghanistan girls

It was well-received.

Mandy How | November 9, 2018 @ 11:46 am

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Students in Singapore are a stressed out bunch.

But that hasn’t stopped Janine Shum, 13, from creating a complex literary piece that combines the voices of two personas — a 12-year-old student in Singapore and a 12-year-old girl in Afghanistan.

The poem, titled, “Our Common World: Two Voices”, has been shared on Facebook by Shum’s mother:

According to the post, the poem won Shum the junior Commonwealth Writing Competition this year.

The poem has since been shared more than 900 times.

In case you can’t see it:

Twin Cinema poetry

This poetic form is known as Twin Cinema, and can be read in three ways:

  • The left column alone
  • The right column alone
  • Both columns together, from left to right

This means that each column should be able to be read independently within its theme, but should also combine to form a coherent narrative.

One can then see how technically complex it is to construct the poem above.

Although the form was thought to have originated in Singapore by Yeow Kai Chai and David Wong, an earlier version of it exists in the contrapuntal form.

In poetry, the contrapuntal form intertwines two separate poems by alternating between their corresponding lines.

You can learn more about Twin Cinema poetry here.

About Mandy How

Mandy is a pantry rat. She eats everything in the pantry (except other people's food).

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