Vital Possessions: by Marc Nair

The seats at the Esplanade concourse were already filled up when I arrived. Everyone was gathered on a cheery Saturday evening for the launch of Vital Possessions, written by Marc Nair and published by local publishing house, Ethos Books.

It was not at all like a typical book event where the author might just sit down and sign book after book. In fact, the audience were treated to quite a captivating performance by Marc himself, which transpired his work beyond its written form.

The author, who is also a recipient of the 2016 Young Artist Award, read selected poems aloud. The words were accompanied by music from his guitar, or beats, which gave the poems rhythm.

Vital Possessions is a collection of not only thought provoking, but also relatable poems, as quite a few are written in a Singaporean context.

Twice Daily, a monologue of sorts, is a witty and humorous read. “To give us our daily bloom, to bless our tendrils, to bless our hanging roots, to forgive those who pluck flowers, to forget those who step on snails in the left lane.” Marc, who was a writer in residence at Gardens By The Bay, draws close parallels between our city’s flora and fauna and our daily lives. The piece ends with “For yours is the garden, the sun and the shade; for as long as you have your lunch hour.”

Ghazal in The Hive, which is another piece of writing from the book, is truly remarkable and relevant in Singapore’s fast-paced society.

Here’s an excerpt:
“Worker bees with blue teeth type and do not speak, as frequencies build rumours inside our hive.”

“We queue for lunch in humid canteens, where the best dishes are from outside our hive.”

As Marc read this out to the audience, he invited everyone to consider what the hive refers to.

Vital Possessions by Marc Nair

His words paint quite an accurate picture of society; how people are often too caught up in work to hold meaningful conversations. The second part of the excerpt above struck a chord with me— I find this to be undeniably true, as Singaporeans are always favour not only foreign cuisines but also foreign brands, culture and even media. We Singaporeans tend to put these things on a pedestal, perceiving them to be more appealing than what we have back home.

Vital Possessions talks about our uneasy co-existence with both flora and fauna in our garden city, but also touches on several other themes that are close to heart and home. This is one book that deserves a place on any Singaporean’s bookshelf.

Vital Possessions ($16.82) is available for purchase online at

by Natalie Kwan