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  • The Grammar of Self

The Grammar of Self

Collected Poems 2000-2023

George Watt

English , 2024/06 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Poetry

216 x 140 x 18 mm , 209pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-8833-85-6

  • US$19.95

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In THE GRAMMAR OF SELF, George Watt presents a lifetime of memories, which seemingly move at random from decade to decade, from continent to continent, from cosmos to microcosm. It does have one central goal: to look at poetry as an attempt towards objectification of aspects of personal identify, as a means through which the self may be confronted, challenged and celebrated. But the volume of verse does more than that as it subscribes to a notion from Thomas Szasz about the self: it is “not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.” (T.S. Szasz, The Second Sin (New York: Anchor Press, 1973) p. 49). This volume accepts that the poetic text, or multiples thereof, is one means through which a self finds articulation. This articulation is open-ended, chaotic, composed of innumerable experiential fragments that come from deed, time, place and person. The self in this volume is composed of psychic jigsaw pieces (single poems) each of which assert their right to placement, but which will never collate into a perfect picture. This volume of poetry is a collection of many of these pieces, which together present an incomplete movement towards Szaszian self-creation.


Reading George Watt’s The Grammar of Self is a long, delightful, and highly rewarding journey. The poet masterfully draws on varied registers, maintaining an engaging tone all along, while carving his poetic pieces with a delicate precision that results in producing incisive, playful, thought-provoking, liberated, and liberating poems, with mouthwatering images. In its themes and concerns, The Grammar of Self is a broad-ranging work. It is a consciously and meticulously constructed edifice of histories, wars, memories, desires, texts, impulses, times, and places, all interwoven by the poet’s experience and contextualization of them.
—Dr Ahmed Elbeshlawy
Savage Charm (Proverse, 2019)

Voluminous in scope, terrifying in its prescience, yet oddly compassionate in its multivaried gaze, George Watt's The Grammar of Self spans eras, continents and histories in search of coherence, identity and ultimately the recreation of worlds past and present.

—Akin Jeje
Smoked Pearl : Poems of Hong Kong and Beyond (Proverse, 2010)

This is an amazing collection of poetry. I state this for two reasons: it is memorable and it resonates. In my view, good poetry is memorable because it has a lasting quality in the mind and one wants to read it again and again. Additionally, good poetry also resonates because it suggests so many images and meanings, thereby reverberating with a timeless quality. George Watt’s poetry book, The Grammar of Self, is such a volume with its various subjects from history to self, both memorable and resonating.

—Dr J.P. Linstroth
Epochal Reckonings (Proverse, 2020)

George Watt is a retired academic and a writer who has certainly not retired. He was the recipient of the Proverse Prize (2020) for the novel The Finley Confession. Past published works include English language texts, and academic studies such as The Fallen Woman in the 19th Century Novel, rereleased by Routledge Library Editions in 2018, and the first full-length study of an influential postcolonial writer in Interlogue Studies in Singapore Literature, Vol. 5: Robert Yeo. His poetry has appeared in five different volumes of Mingled Voices, published by Proverse Hong Kong, and in Sandpaper Swimming: going after Burke and Wills, published by Flying Island Books in 2019. He has held visiting academic posts in USA and Singapore, was head of two residential colleges at the Australian National University, was Professor and Dean at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, was Founding Professor of Comparative Culture at the Hokkaido Campus of Komazawa University, and was, finally, Founding Master in the recent collegiate restructuring of the University of Macau. He is a graduate in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh.

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