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“In this compelling book, Desmond Kon engages the reader in writing prompts that advance wellness and serve as an affirmation that the road to self-recovery exists. For those who question their own resilience and capacity to cope with life’s challenges, this intricately designed book offers a path to a better world, regardless of whether one reflects on personal blemishes or sacred keepsakes. As the author astutely suggests, the key to success lies within.”


Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Virginia Poet Laureate Emerita

“Desmond Kon’s Depth of Field: My Guided Journal for Self Healing presents a beautiful opportunity for anyone who would like to draft letters to his or her essential self. This strikingly illustrated journal book asks us to make use of writing prompts to express who we are, have been, and might be someday. Kon plays with and against proverbial wisdom—frequently invoking fables and fairy tales with a special emphasis on Aesop’s Fables. His prompts frequently suggest to users of the journal that they may want to tweak or even turn against traditional wisdom as they endeavor to achieve self-discovery. Kon—with his training in theology, creative writing, and book publishing—has made use of his many talents in the construction of Depth of Field, a journal book that can reveal a self to a self.”


Joseph Stanton

Recipient of the Cades Award for Literature and

the Ka Palapala Poʻokela Award for Excellence in Literature

“Among the many things to like in Desmond Kon’s Singular Acts of Endearment are his skillful ways with tone and voice, making every sentence a pleasure to read. The writing is intelligent yet somehow guileless; seemingly uncontrived yet never strikes a false note; unmistakably contemporary yet unaffected by fashionable irony and insincerity. Here’s narrative by a true storyteller, who cares about the reader as well as the characters he creates, who dares to be as moved by their lives as we are.”


Frank Stewart

Recipient of Whiting Writers’ Award


“Despite its own gleeful riffs on unreadability, Singular Acts of Endearment is utterly engrossing. A Theory of Everything (Literary) and a Theory of Nothingness, at least as applied to contemporary Singapore, this novel is a celebration of the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the ridiculous. It is simultaneously lament and celebration, formal exercise and freeform improvisation: it is exhilarating.”

Valerie Sayers

Recipient of Pushcart Prize and NEA Arts Literature Fellowship

“Imagine an alphabet given anthropomorphic agency. Imagine at last the terms in which we couch theoretical discourse kicking up their collective feet, then walking away from their inventors. Imagine what they’d say while waving goodbye. Actually, you don’t have to. Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has already done it for you. It’s no oxymoron that The Arbitrary Sign is consistently systematic. This is the difference between poetry and philosophy. One knows all about the other. The other just thinks it knows the same. But which is which? You’ll have to read this book to find doubt.” 


Noah Eli Gordon 

Recipient of Grey Gummer Poetry Award and Green Rose Prize

“Don’t be fooled. There is nothing arbitrary here, nothing that begs to be misunderstood. Instead, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé offers psalms of philosophy, quiet prayers to Socrates and Plato, to Thomas and Whitman. These poems are confessional in the most unique of ways, beyond the public, underneath the personal. They tap into a universal vein, the voice that comes when we allow ourselves to observe ourselves. The result is transcendent.”


Bryan Borland

Editor of Assaracus

“Aesthetics is essential for this poet whose sense of the beautiful is undoubtedly baroque with its cult of excess, as in his devotion to accumulating signs and tropes, every line a shrine to language, an ecstatic amalgamation of the haute and the kitsch, the arcane and the quotidian, the panegyric and the satiric, etc. How too these sestinas effusively compile memories, both real and imagined. Indeed, this book is so many things, a veritable postmodern cornucopia of myriad ecstasies.”

Orlando Ricardo Menes

Recipient of Prairie Schooner Book Prize

“In Desmond Kon’s sprung sestinas, we see how far poetry can stretch our minds, our muscles. Lived-in, let loose, out at the party, these are high-energy poems, wearing artfulness on their sleeves. ‘Part and parcel of something else’, trim with sly coercives, these sestinas sing, caterwaul, and patter us into somewhere new. Or, to reiterate, you are about to enter the maze and miasma of the mind itself. Open this book, and don’t let go.”

Lytton Smith

Recipient of Nightboat Books Poetry Prize

“An incredible banquet of a book, packed to the gills with international literatures and gastronomies, starring a huge array of cultures, writers, philosophers, artists, mindsets. As in any notable, capacious menu, there is something here for every palate: prose, poetry, theory, emotion, big ideas, the transient and the eternal. Gertrude Stein, Annie Lennox, de Sade, Melanie Klein, Matisse, dolphin meat, durian, breast milk, chocolate violets. Bon appetit, dear reader!”


Amy Gerstler 

Recipient of National Book Critics Circle Award


“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s catholic taste, generous spirit, and love of great writing is everywhere evident in this wild, risky, heartfelt book.”

Michael Ryan 

Recipient of Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Depth of Field is a guided journal about kindness to self. It is full of delicious metaphors, allegories, imageries, and beautiful wordplay by a consummate wordsmith. It connects you to familiar fables playfully reinterpreted to respond to the existential angst we experience today. Above all, it delights your being in a reflective way—your eyes with its visual beauty, your mind with its intellectual stimulation, your heart with its colourful imagination and your will with its compelling analogies to nudge you to be kind to yourself by willing into being your true submerged self—simply by writing your reflections from the looking glass.”

William Wan

General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement and Recipient of the President’s Philanthropy & Volunteerism Award

Depth of Field is no literature: it’s a godsend of good fortune and favour. Desmond Kon proves here poets can still be miracle workers and help people heal with word combinations. A kind of psycho-Orphism underlies the fables the author delicately sets up for us, to which responses are intended to be given through a dedicated space: each page opens a different landscape of your unconscious inland and moves smoothly its inhabitants—the wonder trees, farm animals and wild beasts of the mind. Genuinely empathetic and elegantly crafted, Depth of Field is an ardent invitation to become the poet of one’s own life.”

Pierre Vinclair

Recipient of the Académie Française Heredia Prize and

the Villa Kujoyama in Literature

“Here is a book few of us think a Singaporean could write! For proof, pick it up and read almost any section/para.... and believe me, you will be astounded! Kon is a consummate artist here, weaving strands of knowledge, wisdom, humour so porously that as readers we are left baffled but wiser, perhaps even sadder. I don’t know how best to describe this book—perhaps the word *fable* might well do the trick! Like the wizards of old, he weaves magic into words seamlessly making us marvel and wonder. This is a book all educated men and women will find thoroughly rewarding and refreshing. A damn good read!”


Kirpal Singh

Author of Thinking Hats & Coloured Turbans

I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. One of the best experimental voices in Singapore poetry, Kon’s science fiction-meets-existentialist prose poetry collection is densely—almost brutally—packed with allusions and anyone who stays for the ride is rewarded with an immensely satisfying (and often funny) read.”

Mayo Martin

Editor, TODAYonline

“Like their predecessors at that 1962 Malayan Writers’ Conference who declared ‘art comes first’, ‘that the writer’s responsibility is to explore new forms, themes, and methods of expression’, poets today, such as Desmond Kon and Yeow Kai Chai, seem more engaged by literary art, word play and formal experiment, sometimes exciting, sometimes to the extent of impenetrability.”

Koh Tai Ann

Professor, NTU Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

“This collection of poetry by interdisciplinary artist Desmond Kon is an invitation to ‘jump into the spray like raindance’—between musings on philosophy, speech acts and language play, the poet performs the role of conteur, archivist, marionette.... Kon offers eleven ways of looking at a square, a fable, and a republic. What does the world represent for you? he asks in earnest. These prose vignettes are clever and defy categories. They contain a wealth of references across time and cultures, its undercurrent of a tragicomedy so irresistible that it feels like the ‘tongue tasting brown sugar’.” 


Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Author of Water the Moon

“A playlist, a syllabus, a rollcall and a spell, Phat Planet Cometh is a righteous act of literary vengeance for Unica Zürn, Freud’s Dora, Virginia Woolf, and any other figure of illicit femininity who has been straitjacketed by society’s regime of compulsory wellness. In the examination room, on the dark side of the moon, ‘A is for one more apocalypse against the rest of them.’ ” 


Joyelle McSweeney

Recipient of Leslie Scalapino Prize

“Can a setlist save our lives anymore than a poet or a psychotherapist? This obsessively compulsive collection verges on martial disorder as it tries to impose alphabetic order on contemporary chaos. Eschewing lyrical narcissism for a communal dialectics, Desmond Kon comes to rescue a planet from psychic alienation with his deadpan delivery of cosmic soundbytes siphoned from the blathosphere.” 


Timothy Liu

Recipient of Norma Farber First Book Award

“On a red planet where cynicism wars against authentic emotion, pop culture infects conversation with a veneer of banality, but don’t be fooled: Desmond Kon’s Phat Planet Cometh brims with philosophy and feminism, intertextuality and sophistication. This book promises supple satisfaction.” 

Lily Hoang

Recipient of PEN Beyond Margins Award

“One of the oddest reads you’ll ever encounter. Like Alice in Singa-land, expect to bump your head and bruise your innocent soul as Jia Lat Lah’s curious and curiouser characters get mad and madder in a strangely hypnotic narrative. At once knowing and naughty, Desmond Kon’s antiplay about identity, language and culture clearly revels in defying literary convention. Play, prose and poetry mix and tumble with a heady dose of Singlish and Beckett, proving that there are no boundaries to the author’s wit and imagination.”

Michael Chiang

Playwright of Army Daze and Beauty World


Jia Lat Lah is an amusing, provocative collection of poems deliberately designed to shock and fluster the delicate Singaporean temperament. The author cleverly sticks to several themes throughout the poems—many written in the voice of a teenager. Will definitely strike a chord with anyone who has been to secondary school in Singapore. A must read.”


Mary-Ann Russon

Journalist, BBC News Online

“Desmond Kon atomizes language and experience, giving us particles of joy and insight. Reading him, I always learn something about that enduring mystery called Human.” 

Pat Matsueda

Author of Stray

“An enticing collection of easy-to-follow writing prompts that invite the reader to slow down, pay attention, and listen toward a place of deep and fearless presence, where one is able to see beyond the trees and imagine other shores.”

Martha Silano

Co-editor of The Daily Poet

The Good Day I Died is an exceptional book that you won’t want to miss! This book goes well beyond other personal near-death experience (NDE) accounts. The unique book format of questions followed by his own answers adds a fascinating dimension of gripping reality. Desmond courageously shares his profound near-death experience and the remarkable experiences and understandings that followed. With each turn of the page you will find a treasure trove of insights and inspiration. This outstanding book is expertly written, very easy to read, and enthusiastically recommended.”

Jeffrey Long 

Author of the New York Times bestseller Evidence of the

Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, and Founder

of Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF)

“Weaving together his near-death experience and aftereffects, his study of comparative religion, and his literary philosophy, process, and projects, Kon has created a memoir tapestry like no other, addressing a wide range of topics culminating in that of ultimate importance: meaning and happiness in life. This tapestry awaits readers seeking to appreciate its unique beauty.”


Janice Holden 

Editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, and Past President of International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS)

“Desmond Kon brings a welcome literary voice to the NDE memoir. Structured in the form of an interview, the author interrogates himself as the journalist, poet, and scholar within try to make sense of the experience, weaving between intellectual analysis, existential puzzlement, and spiritual wonder. The result is a reflexive meditation not only on the nature and significance of NDEs, but also on uncertainty, identity, literary theory, and the creative process. The Good Day I Died is a unique and moving achievement, and a refreshingly thoughtful and sober contribution to a genre too often characterized by tabloid sensationalism. Taken purely as phenomenological description, Desmond’s account is also a fascinating example of how NDEs can combine such strikingly individual diversity with (quasi-) universal similarity.”

Gregory Shushan 

Author of Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions, and Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations

“When asked by an interviewer what inspires his poetry, Desmond responded: ‘Anything. Anything that I can frame in a moment.’ This much is true of FOODPORN, which does linger on foodstuff, but also zooms in on office hours, great writers, wars, the Cambodian sex trade, the Marquis de Sade, Julia Kristeva, and the movies. But even as the poems threaten to erupt out of their frameswhether the frame of poem, or form, or genre, or bookthey (un)fold into meditations on the spirit. My favorite character here is St. Francis. It is through occasional dialogues with Francis that the book moves from foodporn to transcendence, from darkness to a faith that ‘love never dies.’ The bookmark may be an old Toblerone wrapper, but this book belongs to the saints.”

Susan M. Schultz

Founding Editor, Tinfish Press

“ ‘No chronology or steady story in this nouveau noir,’ says a narrator. This is an aspect that appeals to me in an ‘illimitable triptych’ of small moments where voices that are ‘happy to be dark’ reflect on life and death. An intriguing selection where allusions to religion and philosophy juggle ironically with motifs of food, and poems on the seven last words of Christ juxtapose with a suggestion that ‘mayonnaise’ might be a perfect final word for a book.”

Mandy Pannett

Author of All The Invisibles

“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé invites us to imagine that angels walk among us. His angels do not embody the fleet terror of revelation, but the majestic brokenness of our first selves, now reified through centuries of contemplating art, history, and philosophy. Where Rilke’s angels stoked our passions, Desmond’s angels offer us a lassitude of intellection. In a universe literally bookended by suicide and genocide, Hermitage of Dreamers masterfully demonstrates how the space between art and divinity collapses in our search for solace.”

Sueyeun Juliette Lee

Author of Solar Maximum


“In this sequence of poetic essays, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helps us see what lies beyond our ordinary experience. The journey is no less than a quest for enlightenment, for oneness with a sacred realm. Here, we enter a ‘hermitage,’ a retreat where we are among ‘dreamers’ who seek to know the artists, thinkers and holy figures who have lifted us from the everyday. The effect is touching, provocative, and beautiful.”

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Author of Border Crossings



“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s diction is lucid and absorbing. The author has a keen eye for detail. He seems to be at ease distilling life experiences into memorable narratives with deep philosophical meanings. To digest his stories, one has to carefully peel off layer after layer in order to find the core value of them. By no means philosophical discourses with didactic narratives, Hermitage of Dreamers offers readers a rich harvest of life, recollected in tranquillity.”

Ranga Chandrarathne

Senior Associate Editor, Daily Express

“With its recent status elevation thanks to the OED, this timely provocation reminds us why Singlish is ever so potent and malleable. In Kon’s hands, our patois is deftly molded and ingeniously framed within classroom-style exchanges, highlighting our ever-present desire to challenge authority figures and dramatizing our absurdist longing of wanting to break through.”

Damon Chua

Recipient of Ovation Award for Best New Play

“We take many things for granted in this tiny island of ours. Our ample provisions, our predictable but last warning weather, even that we can leave our damn shoes outside our homes without them getting nicked. But somewhere between Phua Chu Kang and Mata Mata, we almost forgot our very own patois. Thanks for jio-ing us on your absurd jaunt through familiar musings. Come, DesmondI clap for you.”

Justin Deimen

Group Managing Partner & Head, Aurora Media Holdings

Depth of Field is a rare work that has subtly and skilfully combined poetry and philosophy within the form of a self-help and activity book. The prompts—clearly the product of a mind and heart who lives with keen awareness and mindfulness—at once surprises, delights and provokes. These are prompts that will guide the reader to plumb the depths of the heart and scale the heights of the imagination that he/she/they would not have thought possible. This is a book that would not only heal. Its questions will open another world for you after which, you will not look at life you once knew the same again. It is a book that will make you look into yourself and find the gem within you that is waiting to be shared.”

Phan Ming Yen

Fictionist and CEO of Global Cultural Alliance

Depth of Field performs the double task of providing self-help and overcoming writer’s block during pandemic lockdowns and beyond. It provides an easy-to-follow literary approach to free writing, a key tool in overcoming trauma. It also promises to free oneself from any writing rut with exciting prompts. The illustrations and photos are gorgeous as we have come to expect from Desmond F. X. Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. This is an inspirational book for our time.”

Eric Tinsay Valles, PhD

Director of Poetry Festival Singapore and Recipient of

the Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Prize 

“Interdisciplinary artist Desmond Kon has his name etched across works of poetry, plays, novels, life writing, and the spaces in-between. While Kon, in his own words, is not known for writing about Singapore, his corpus has nonetheless brought his name, and our literary scene’s, to renown via his wins of the Singapore Literature Prize, Poetry World Cup and other global accolades.”

Beatrice Bowers

Features Editor, Lifestyle Asia

“Congratulations on this novel, which looks like Desmond Kon’s characteristically beautiful and provocative work with its blend of existentialist, magical realist, koanic and Aristophanic elements, among many others. I am very happy that angels make an appearance here. And a holy tree! The trees, roaches, and sharks, of course, may be all that’s left of the eukaryotes once we are done with this lovely planet.”


Kimberley C. Patton

Recipient of American Academy of Religion Book Award

“Recalling Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist and Chu T'ien-wen’s Notes of a Desolate Man, Desmond Kon’s erudite new book is rooted in discovery—with thrilling excursions into poststructuralist theory, fashion, pop culture, religion, film, botany, and Singaporean trivia. Don’t be fooled by the faux modesty of the preface; Kon’s ligature-loosened kueh lapis text is gloriously readable—and a singular work of art.”

Lee Yew Leong

Editor-in-Chief of Asymptote

“So heaped is this book in poetry, literary, pop music and movie referencesnot to mention Desmond’s incredibly relatable yet poignantly ironic observations of Singaporean lifethat you’re swept away from the get-go. I learnt more from this book, with its carefully crafted pops of info, than the last dozen books I read.”


Penelope Chan

Editor of Simply Her

“Which planets—including, I suspect, several not in this solar system—had to align to bring together the content of Sanctus, Sanctus, Dirgha, Sanctus and this perfect format? What a mercy to the reader, a presentation which titrates the headlong, intricate, compulsive rush of these one-sentence sestinas into the single-line droplets that permit and force one to linger, to savor, to appreciate. For who, left to their own inclination and confronted with a conventional, packed page, could pace sensibly through this tumbling rush of image and language? Who would be temperate enough to resist the mad impulse to hang onto the back bumper of Desmond Kon’s playful intellect as is careens down the Autobahn of each poem, never touching the brakes till the end? Thanks to Red Wheelbarrow, we will never have to find out.”  

Susan Blackwell Ramsey 

Recipient of Prairie Schooner Book Prize

“Contemporary haiku has many faces, and poetic experiments are the best way to explore the full potential of this form. Should we still faithfully follow Japanese masters in these modern times? Does it begin with form and change poet by poet? In Mirror Image Mirage, you have the chance to see the world in a different way. Desmond Kon’s astute observations and brilliant images will help you begin to discover haiku’s many diverse facets.”

Gabriel Sawicki

Editor of Wild Plum Haiku

“The progression of form and content in Mirror Image Mirage is a compelling experiment to see how haiku and micropoetry fit within the conversation of literary and artistic movements, and into our daily lives.”


Aubrie Cox

Frogpond Editor, Haiku Society of America


“In Mirror Image Mirage, Desmond Kon plays with haiku poetics—writing poems that shift quickly from haiku perceptions to postmodern narrative voices questioning the ability of language to bear significance. Literary theory becomes narrators and subjects and images in his short poetic sequences. With haiku-like stanzas, these poems employ quick haiku-cut shifts in direction and tone to engage the reader with an imagined mirage. With Kon’s sequences, we don’t see through language. Language sees us imagining.”

Randy Brooks

Editor, Mayfly

“Set aside everything you knowor think you knowabout haiku. Desmond Kon’s work is edgy, fast-paced, and unconstrained. A kaleidoscopic look at the contemporary world that is nothing short of mesmerizing.”

Susan Antolin

Editor of Acorn: A Journal of Contemporary Haiku

“A generous offering from a generous being. These poems will delight by the uttering aloud of every sonorous line just as soon as they will reward the postmodernist’s parsing of their inter-referential echoes, the contemplative’s line-by-line meditative absorption, and the artist’s apprehension of the ekphrastic. They also subtly resist, yet beguile and even pull, and in the end they pinpoint a dimension in time and space to which you will have known you were moving with each repetition of the sestina form. Philosopher, hermit, journalist, historian, poet, Kon lets us inhabit an almost architectural space somewhere between the desert and the oasis, the walled garden and the wayside, the roughshod and the baroque, life’s varied roads of thought and experience. These do not contradict. All is good. All is holy.”  


Jared Randall

Author of Apocryphal Road Code

“A whimsical activity book for grown-ups who need an escape from drudgery into wonderland. Follow Desmond down this perfectly-plotted rabbit hole—you’ll find wild flights of imagination before coming face to face with yourself in meditative moments of clarity.”

Amanda Chong

Co-Founder of ReadAble and Recipient of the

Singapore Youth Award 

During uncertain times, how vital it is to engage in the healing work of reflection. Depth of Field provides much-needed affirmation and consolation through insightful meditations of the mind and spirit. With tender precision, Desmond Kon has crafted a wise medley of enchanting creative exercises, akin to a recipe book for the heart. Let these imaginative prompts allow for pearls of experience to coalesce and crystallise, enacting and realising all at once what the poet Mary Oliver has called ‘instructions for living a life’.”

Ow Yeong Wai Kit

Anthologist and Recipient of the Ministry of Education Outstanding Youth in Education Award 

“In The Good Day I Died, poet, thinker, and old soul Desmond Kon engages in the risky project of self-revelation. Tapping into his background as both a journalist and a scholar, Desmond assumes two personae at once in the writing of the quasi-memoir, acting both as interviewer and interviewee. The structure achieves a remarkable feat, for in the simultaneous playing of two different roles, assuming two distinct voices and characters, the author does not hide himself behind the mask of either character, but rather uses both to compose what is the most confessional piece to date in his large body of poetic, fictional, and non-fictional work. In what is touted as an explanation of death and a near-death experience, Desmond also leads the reader on a wide-ranging exploration of life, tracing the paths of faith, doubt, courage, fear, deep reflection, and of course poetry that make up his world. By sharing his experience during his NDE, he also offers us a roadmap for understanding the man, the poetry he creates, the philosophy he embraces, and the life of love and simplicity he pursues. It is a bold, courageous confessional, not only because of the revelations surrounding the NDE and the skepticism such events might invite, but even more for the insights it offers into the thoughtful, compassionate life that experience has engendered.” 


Shelly Bryant

Poet and Translator

The Good Day I Died defies categories. It is a poststructuralist confession, an exegetical survey of Desmond Kon’s oeuvre so far, and a magnum opus poem that boldly takes us to the depths of hell, the ethereal light of heaven, and back to life on earth with an assorted cast of angels and demons from pop culture and cultural studies. It is in a liminal fold where art meets reality, and raises questions about beauty and truth. Indeed, if one writes like one’s dying, one would do so with urgency and by design. Desmond shows us how in this poetic work about the artist as a divided self.” 


Eric Tinsay Valles

Poet and Director of Poetry Festival Singapore

The Good Day I Died is unique within the growing body of NDE literature. In his self-styled quasi-memoir, Desmond Kon invokes his experience as a journalist to help him sort out the implications of his own near-death experience when he was thirty-five years old and how it has informed his life and work over time. His choice to interview himself on the topic of his death not only works well here but also supports his deep reflection on what the experience might actually mean. His efforts to grapple honestly with what happened and understand its impact on him as a human being and an author take us through many of his poems and selections of prose. This glimpse into his published work helps us appreciate the broad impact of his experience and recognize the references to it that are woven throughout his immense body of writing. As such, Desmond’s book is not just a quasi-memoir but concurrently a quasi-anthology of his significant literary contribution and robust scholarly achievements. His style is unapologetically intellectual, and his love of language and word crafting is clear. At the same time, though, he is willing to dive head first into the rawness of an experience he is still trying to sort out for himself and tangles honestly with the one thing that often trips up an intellectual—mystery. This author-as-witness approach softens the query, reveals his vulnerability and for the reader, lends a sense of authenticity. For the scholar dissecting Desmond’s written work, this book is an essential foundation to understanding not only the writing but also the writer himself and his influences. Desmond ends his book by acknowledging the importance of giving his near-death experience an important space within his own narrative and that by having the courage to pen it, he can better honor its significance and thus more easily accept its reality. As a result of his self-effacement, so can we.” 

Laurin Bellg 

Critical Care Physician, and Author of

the award-winning Near Death in the ICU

“The crystalline structures of I Didn’t Know Mani Was a Conceptualist precipitate out of Eastern and Western religious and philosophical texts, out of tantra, science fiction, cinema, high art, collage and low camp, out of Singapore, China, Europe and the United States. Beaded through this book, Desmond Kon’s crystals glitter instructively ‘like angels hanging onto tiaras’. Both elegant and extravagant, they thread suspended between prose poem and multiplex narrative, a cubist’s sphere.” 


John Wilkinson

Author of Reckitt’s Blue

“Don’t be afraid of Desmond Kon. Learned yet not needlessly pious, he is a riot. He is consistently at play in the fields of many lords: You feel the sheer joy as he zips across cultures and centuries, frolics on intellectual peaks and noses around introspective depths. From prophet Mani (who founded the gnostic religion Manichaeism) to the Buddha, he match-makes people and ideas as he roams far and wide in a ceaseless pursuit of enlightenment, wherever that is. His collagist approach, pivoted on suites of koans and narrative shorts, affords creative and spiritual exchanges that set the stage for much heated, and sometimes jocular, discussions. No, you won’t understand everything, but that’s okay. It’ll just make you come back and reread every single word.”

Yeow Kai Chai

Author of Pretend I’m Not Here



“A riotous gallery, Dada, Zen, Princess Diana, Elton John, Rodin, Baudelaire, Plath, Thoreau, an encyclopaedic range of learning mixed in the boundary-blurring milieu of the prose poem into an exhilarating palette of colours and a thought-provoking train of collages that offers arresting ways of looking at history, religion and art.”


Boey Kim Cheng

Author of Clear Brightness

“No one writes quite like Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. It is not just that he has found new forms (though he has), not just that his syntax is a rarity (it is), not just that he has something to say that has, somehow, not been said before (it hasn’t). In other hands, the new, the rare, the as-yet-unsaid is not always pleasurable, not always beautiful, not always delicious. This book though is a feast of juxtapositions, a mélange of miscegenations, an impossibility of conversations, from the complex simplicity of the poems (like a blue belt) to the roughening texture of the essays (like a cat’s tongue). I consider it one of the triumphs of my efforts as an editor to have published several of these beautiful enigmas in Xavier Review.”

Richard Collins

Dean of Arts and Humanities,

California State University Bakersfield

“A piece of postmodern dream realism that discovers—or creates—poetry through observing the practical, systematic details that make up contemporary Singapore life. Beneath its charmingly light surface, there is something sad and wise.”

Ovidia Yu

Author of Aunty Lee’s Delights

“Every book is a miracle but this one has many miracles on every page, sprinkled like stardust around memories and experiences of life lived and life left behind. Desmond evokes his magic with scenes from daily life, crisscrossing between life on the street and life in books, thoughts, and his rainbow of imagination. Guaranteed: You will fall in love with this book.”

Zafar Anjum

Author of Singapore Decalogue

Depth of Field is a book about us and the stories we tell ourselves. Each journal prompt is simple yet profound, bearing the whimsical qualities of a fairy tale, with stories awaiting to be written by you, the reader. Intricately interwoven with Aesop’s fables along with ekphrastic elements to inspire imagination and contemplation, this journal is an invitation for us to look deeper and discover that healing begins within.”

Nicole Kay

Founder of the Tapestry Project Singapore

“Our word aesthetic is derived from a Greek root that elicits knowledge through the senses (plural emphasized). Simply put the opposite of aesthetic is an anesthetic which inhibits our senses and thereby our ability to feel, to taste, to smell, to hear, and to see. In his collection of poems entitled Reading to Ted Hesburgh, Desmond Kon involves all of our senses through a visually pleasing presentation of both words and text that engages our feelings, our imaginations, and our memories as he moves us alphabetically from alienation toward world soul. His poems remind us that the classical Hindus believed the poet was a seer and the classical Greeks that the poet was a maker for Kon creates a new world of seeing through sound and memory as he ‘plays’ in the best sense of the Sanskrit concept of lila with words and their meanings. He leads us through the darkness into the light as he brings a new world into being and transforms our senses as he references well-known works of art, literature, and philosophy that awaken the power of metaphor and imagination.”

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona

Editor, Image and Spirit in Sacred and Secular Art

“Everything about Reading to Ted Hesburgh is a feast. None of the sameness of contemporary poetry threatens this original collection of twenty-six poemsone for every letter of the alphabetthat is determined to deliver, one after the other, ‘a lyric reminder of this forgotten world.’ Like their designated flower, the heliotrope, these poems turn unabashedly to face the sun, defiant, cheeky, eschewing punctuation and any convention that might limit subject matter and associations. These poems are inclusive in the best Whitmanesque sense. Truly, they contain multitudes. Russell Edson, Raymond Carver, Yevtushenko, Hegel himself and many others come in for a mention in these poems; I am in these poems, and so are you, each and every one of you. Here discover abstraction and concreteness to sing and rue a world: ‘form & finitude/seeing that there’s saliva all over the apple’ and be glad. Desmond Kon’s spirited book is good company for the investigative, ever-curious mind and the soul-seeking spiritual adventurer. There are even good laughs in its lines. Read them aloud. Let them pick you up and drive you around like the charismatic, blind taxi driver who knows the mysterious city like the back of his hand. You won’t die in his care, but you’ll change.”

Robert McDowell

Author of Poetry as Spiritual Practice

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