“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver ~
Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé (b. 1971) is the author of an epistolary novel, a quasi-memoir, two lyric essay monographs, four hybrid works, nine poetry collections, a guided creative journal, and several chapbooks.
He has also edited over twenty-five books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organisations including Sok Sabay Cambodia, SAGE Counselling Centre, Riding for the Disabled Association, Paya Lebar Methodist Church, and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre. These titles span the genres of ethnography, journalism, creative writing, and corporate literature.
Trained in book publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame.
A former journalist with 8 Days magazine, he has travelled to Australia, France, Hong Kong and Spain for his stories, which have included features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman, culminating in the authorship of the limited edition Top Ten TCS Stars for Caldecott Publishing.
Desmond is the first-ever winner in both Poetry and Visionary Fiction categories at the Beverly Hills International Book Awards; to have two collections tie for Poetry at the National Indie Excellence Book Awards; to clinch two prizes under Multicultural Fiction (Silver) and Book/Author/Publisher Website (Gold) at the Independent Publisher Book Awards; to place a single title twice, in consecutive years, at the eLit Book Awards, first in 2022 (Anthologies, Bronze; Best Book Website, Gold), then in 2023 (Poetry, Silver; Anthologies, Gold); to garner five accolades under Metaphysical (Bronze), Inspirational Fiction (Silver), Death & Dying (Gold), and Digital Media (Gold in consecutive years) categories at the Living Now Book Awards; as well as to sweep seven wins under Adult Fiction, Anthology, Poetry, and Spirituality in four territories (Northeast, West, Midwest, Southwest) at the USA Regional Excellence Book Awards.
His other honours include the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award (Poetry), two Illumination Christian Book Gold Awards (Digital Media in consecutive years), Singapore Literature Prize (Poetry), PEN American Center Shorts Prize, and Poetry World Cup, among other accolades.
His assorted select works of poetry and prose have placed in literary competitions in Australia, Canada, England, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, and the US.
Desmond has taught writing and publishing for over two decades, his contributions recognised with the Hiew Siew Nam Distinguished Academic Award, and four teaching excellence awards.
Recipient of grants from the National Arts Council and Singapore International Foundation, he has enjoyed literary appointments at the Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Gardens by the Bay Writing Residency, and NTU-NAC Creative Writing Residency. He has also held juror engagements for various literary competitions and projects organised by The British Council, Marshall Cavendish, Ministry of Education, National Arts Council, National Library Board, Poetry Festival Singapore, Singapore Book Council, Sing Lit Station, Singapore University of Social Sciences, Unity Young Writers Festival, and Word Forward.
Chosen as a featured Singaporean in the commemorative tome, Living The Singapore Story: Celebrating Our 50 Years, Desmond later became the lyricist for the commissioned choral work to mark the Singapore Youth Festival’s 50th Anniversary.
He has also invented several poetic forms, namely the asingbol, the anima methodi, and the found//fount sonnet. A distinctly Singaporean variation of the classic form, the found//fount sonnet became the poetic form-of-choice to frame Light to Night Festival 2020, as well as issued its own commemorative anthology to mark the Singapore Bicentennial.
As a Roman Catholic, Desmond counts among his most fulfilling projects two anthologies, both co-edited with Eric Tinsay Valles, a long-time collaborator—and in veritate et caritate, his godfather.
A Given Grace: An Anthology of Christian Poems commemorates the Philippine Quincentennial and Singapore Bicentennial of Catholicism, and was selected for exhibition at the Catholic200SG Festival in 2021. The following year saw the launch of The Jesuit: Finding God in All Things, an exclusive anthology specially created to mark the Quadricentennial Canonisation of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The co-editors set a world record when both anthologies collected multiple literary accolades. This feat of accomplishment represented a world’s first-ever—twice over—for any writer to receive both the Illumination Christian Book Gold Award (Digital Media) and the Living Now Gold Book Award (Digital Media) for two separate publications in consecutive years.
Desmond bears the baptismal name of his patron saint, St. Francis Xavier.