2nd Singapore Poetry Contest – Second Prize Winner

by Ankita Anand

Politicians double up as salons
Offering makeovers.

If today you ask a city its name,
It will look into your eyes seductively
And ask, “What do you want it to be?
I could be Shanghai,
Or are you in the mood for Singapore?”

And though you know
That while the grass on your side is burnt or stunted,
None grows on the other side,
You’ll allow yourself to be coiled up and swallowed.

You’ll want to take this one decision,
To end the pretence that you’re the one taking the decisions;
You’ll wish to do away with the stressful delusion of being in control,
Knowing you were the one being kept in control.

You’ll give in gratefully
In that most vulnerable moment in the day,
When you’re shivering,
“Anywhere but here, anywhere but here.”


Judge’s comment: “Metamorphosis” is a strong indictment of politicians who promise only superficial reform and not real change. Like Shanghai, Singapore is portrayed as an alluring but false model for developing cities in the global South. For the poem’s speaker, Singapore does not live up to its own billing as “a City in a Garden.” However, and this is where the poetry lies, the speaker will give in to the temptation to migrate, to be swallowed by the Edenic snake, even though she already owns the knowledge of good and evil. The plain statement regarding decision and control is then subsumed by the lyricism of the ending.”


Based in Delhi, India, writer-poet Ankita Anand has been an invitee to the International Poetry Festival, Andhra Pradesh, and the Multilingual Poetry Festival, Kerala, India. Her poetry has recently been chosen to be part of an anthology featuring forty Indian poets below the age of forty. She is also a recipient of the European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali Media Prize and a fellow with the Washington-based group The Rules.