Amanda Chan


Amanda Chan

Amanda Chan writes poems that present everyday encounters as symbolic responses to time, love and loss. Amanda studied English Literature as an undergraduate. Her enjoyment of the meaning and musicality of words began with a reading habit instilled by Mum, practical criticism classes taught by a fantastic literature teacher, and listening to radio plays in Mandarin. Amanda has worked in publishing and taught English. She is currently working on poetry and narratives featuring Singapore.
Contact: achan011 [at] gold [dot]



‘Observation’, ‘Telegraph Hill Park’ and ‘A Taxi Driver’s Day at Work in Singapore’ are poems that draw on everyday encounters to tell a story about characters whose actions resonate with greater significance than these might appear to.

‘Observation’ captures a moment of tension between two unnamed characters to set up a quiet gesture of appeasement. 

‘Telegraph Hill Park’ is based on a description of a boy I saw joyfully riding his bicycle in the park that gives this poem its title. To express that joy and playfulness visually, the lines are made to mimic movement: Sentences unfold, with the use of capital letters or the lack of deliberately showing where each sentence moves as it begins, continues and ends. Factual observations of the boy and his friends conclude on a more judgemental note when the speaking voice finally expresses what their actions really symbolise.

An encounter with a taxi driver while I was on my way to work motivated me to write ‘A Taxi Driver’s Day at Work in Singapore’. This poem questions an assumption made of taxi drivers – that they are uneducated and cannot speak well in English. Written with a rhythmic beat so that the poem might be enjoyed as spoken word poetry, and inspired by Arthur Yap’s poetry, the cadence of direct and reported speech is presented in a mix of Englishes – Received Pronunciation, a less formal variation of Singapore English and the most informal variant of Singapore English (or Singlish) with a hint of dialect.  



The couple who might have fought

Had cake to ease her frown –

He with tattooed arm, 

She with Band-Aid on aged thumb;

Such tenderly measured sugar he added

Into her milk drenched tea.

Telegraph Hill Park


The boy zips up and down on his bike, 

      brakes recklessly, 



        the slope. He whoops,


getting to the end to begin again. 

They form a perfect knot on the patch,

        he, and his track-suited teenage friends.

        Not giving up the rough-



voices on the brink 

  of a fight

  (maybe rough talk signals some romance),

they cuss and shout, daring each other to take

        one-night stands at fourteen;


Nudging and teasing, they move

to play imaginary football in the tennis courts.

Holding the late, long summer beat 


        existential comfort is their game. 

A Taxi Driver’s Day at Work in Singapore


“Uncle, góa ai ki 51 Edgefield Plains. 

Punggol Secondary School can? You know how to go?”


The taxi driver nods and lets me in.

He starts my ride with options for this route.


But just before I’m settled 

His English makes me wonder 


Why I spoke in broken dialect 

When I first got on his cab.


Taxi uncle launches 

His diatribe on warning letters, 


Traffic fines and cameras

That caught his comrades in the act:


“Customer service!” was all they had

To defend illegal stops. 


Should is poison! 

We need Cannots, Must nots


In our traffic laws. 

These will make it easier


For us to do our duty. 

It’s common sense. It’s logic!” 


He tells me why he speaks 

For drivers in the Union –


His English, learnt from work abroad,

Means smart, aggressive business talk is what he can afford.


“When I tell them what the best route is or disagree, some 

Customers complain. They say, Uncle,


Why you so fierce? But when they

Get to where they want – fast, cheap, safe,


They say thank you 

And I get awards. Is it wrong to sound so fierce?”


I can’t reply when taxi uncle navigates

The route we’ll take, narrating histories 


Of the changing streets

In that same disgruntled, kindly breath.