PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Colm Toibin on Thom Gunn's Letters Allice Hiller and Sasha Dugdale in conversation David Herman on the life of Edward W. Said Jena Schmitt o'sn Hope Mirrlees Brian Morton: Now the Trees
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

Cover of Infinity Diary
Jee Leong KohWisdom Literature
Infinity Diary, Cyril Wong (Seagull Books) £16.99
Cyril Wong’s first book release in the UK and the US invites reflection on his distinguished body of work. In addition to a volume of stories and two novels, Wong has written fourteen books of poetry, two of which won the Singapore Literature Prize. He is forty-three years old.

Infinity Diary, published by Cal­cutta-based Seagull Books, is a distillation of years of spiritual searching, away from childhood’s homophobic Catholicism towards an adult tussle with Buddhist detachment. The search has been conducted through rigorous self-examination, writing daily. Hence the many books. Not all of them reach the same level of achievement, but the quality is consistently high. The main reason, as I see it, is that Wong does not lose sight of all the tunneling forces that sap spiritual life. The writing is urgent, because, like Wong’s practice of meditation, it enacts ‘rituals of survival’ (‘Between Infinity and You’). Infinity Diary is programmatic (a fearful word!) in that it offers a living program, the poet himself.

Formally, the spiritual agenda manifests itself in the use of the sentence as the main unit of sense and music. In his earlier work, Wong has shown himself a master of the line break, most thrillingly and subtly in his book-length poem Satori Blues. He understands what he calls in Infinity Diary ‘the art of hope in the torque / of a line’. The love lyrics in this book are as tender and erotic as the Song of Songs, but they do not represent Wong’s improvement on previous collections. ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image