CYRIL WONG has been called Singapore's first confessional poet. Author of nine volumes of poetry and a collection of strange tales, his poems are known for their "lyrical intensity" and for "training an almost anthropologically curious eye on the laws and customs of his own family: their strange taciturn ways, their gnomic references to disappointment and guilt, and their penchant for self-delusion" (Holden, Poon, Lim 370). In a way that makes him particularly distinctive in the Singaporean literary scene, his poetic orbit possesses "a heightened awareness of the physical body, and a desire to probe its visceral materiality for emotional truths" (Holden, Poon, Lim 370-71). Edwin Thumboo has praised Cyril's poems for their "remarkable inwardness" and how "they leave us with the feeling of subjects - occasion, non-happening, an especially poignant experience - explored to unusual limits" ("Introduction" 9).
Although Cyril is popularly known as a homosexual poet, TIME magazine (Dec. 10, 2007) has written that "his work expands beyond simple sexuality...to embrace themes of love, alienation and human relationships of all kinds" (Tharoor 48). Singaporean critic Gwee Li Sui has stressed that readers need not perceive the poet's persona in terms of gay exceptionality, "his qualities of spaciousness and morphing images also manifesting an interest in a kind of New-Age irreligious spirituality" ("The New Poetry" 250). In a review by the Southeast Asian Review of English, Cyril's poetry was called "an art that works simply from a personal plane, and from within such a plane we have some of the most sensitive, articulate probings into the nature of one's self that have never been seen before in all of contemporary Singaporean verse" (Jeyam 99).
Cyril has been a featured poet at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Hong Kong International Literary Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, Utan Kayu International Literary Biennale, Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, and the Singapore Writers Festival. Theatre companies, dancers and musicians have adapted his work for the stage. A selection of his poems was performed at the opening of the 2004 Queensland Poetry Festival. He has also been a creative writing mentor under the Creative Arts Programme and the Mentor Access Project. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Fulcrum, Poetry International, Poetry New Zealand, Ideya, and Asia Literary Review, among various journals and magazines. Anthologies featuring his work include GASPP (The Literary Centre 2010), Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore (AHB & IWP 2009), Double Skin (Ethos 2009), Fifty on 50 (NAC 2009), Writing Singapore: An Historical Anthology of Singapore Literature (NUS Press 2009), Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton 2008), Chinese Erotic Poems (Everyman's Library 2007), and Dance the Guns to Silence (Flipped Eye Publishing 2005).
A past recipient of the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award (2005) and the Singapore Literature Prize (2006), Cyril is presently pursuing a doctoral degree in English literature at the National University of Singapore under a Research Scholarship, and edits the poetry journal, SOFTBLOW.