Robert Yeo at Eighty: A Tribute

Dr Ismail s. Talib (editor)

A celebratory portrait of a man who has left an indelible mark on the national literary scene. 

Robert Yeo is a national treasure. His poetry, plays and edited anthologies have contributed significantly to Singaporean literature over his long career, and these accomplishments have resulted in him receiving the Public Service Star in 1991 for rendering “valuable public service to the people of Singapore” and the S.E.A. Write Award in 2011 for lifetime achievement.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, NUS professor Dr Ismail S. Talib has assembled a plethora of tributes, from Yeo’s contemporaries – such as Edwin Thumboo, Catherine Lim, Shanmughalingam Murugasu and Suchen Christine Lim – and those he has influenced – such as Cyril Wong, Gwee Li Sui, Aaron Lee and Felix Cheong. This celebration of Yeo’s life and work presents the portrait of a man who has left an indelible mark on the national literary scene, and whose writing remains vital and relevant today.

About the author
Robert Yeo has published poetry and a novel, staged plays, written essays on cultural policy and theatre, compiled anthologies on Singaporean literature and co-written books on the teaching of literature in secondary schools. In 1978, he attended the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and was a Fulbright Scholar in 1995. For more than a decade, from 1977 onwards, he was Chairman of the Drama Advisory Committee, which helped to develop theatre in Singapore, especially English-language theatre, and for this work he was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1991. His collection of poems Leaving Home, Mother was published in 1999 and his three connected plays were published in 2001 as The Singapore Trilogy. In October 2009, his second libretto titled Kannagi, a short chamber piece based on an Indian epic poem, with John Sharpley as composer, was staged in Singapore’s Sri Mariamman Temple. His first libretto, a full-length work titled Fences, also with John Sharpley as composer, was staged in August 2012. Yeo was awarded the S.E.A. Write Award in 2011.

Dr Ismail S. Talib (editor) is an Associate Professor at the Department of English Language & Literature of the National University of Singapore. He received his BA (Hons) from the University of Singapore, his MA from the National University of Singapore and his PhD from the University of East Anglia.