Lee Tzu Pheng (b. 1946)
Lee Tzu Pheng, Anne, born in Singapore, retired as Associate Professor in English Literature from the National University of Singapore where she taught for 32 years. She is author of seven collections of poetry: Prospect of a Drowning (1980), Against the Next Wave (1988), The Brink of An Amen (1991), Lambada By Galilee & Other Surprises (1997), Sing a Song of Mankind (2012), and Standing in the Corner (2014); a relatively modest output but which has won her numerous awards, including the Singapore National Book Development Council Award for Poetry (three times), the Singapore Cultural Medallion for Literature (1985), the SEA (South East Asia) WRITE award (1987), the Montblanc-CFA (Centre for the Arts) Literary Award (1996), and the Gabriela Mistral Award from the Republic of Chile (1995) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral’s winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Lee was the only Singaporean among 50 writers worldwide honoured with this award. In addition to poetry, Lee has a book for parents on reading-readiness in children, Growing Readers (1987), and a book of prose reflections titled Short Circuits (2012). Soul’s Festival is a compilation from her first four collections which are now out of print.
Lee’s poetry, published under her Chinese name, is known internationally and studied in university literature courses in Australia, Canada and the USA, and her work has been read over the BBC. Several of her poems have been set to music for choral performance by Singapore composer, Professor Bernard Tan. One of the country’s most accessible poets for her clarity and understated humour, she has given numerous poetry readings in public, and is known for her mentorship of younger writers and promotion of creative writing among the young.
In 2014, Lee was on the inaugural list of 108 women inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame, established to honour the women who had made an impact on the nation and shaped society with their humanity, talent and creativity, vision, passion and leadership.
Generally known for her avoidance of the public eye, she considers herself an ordinary person blessed with an extraordinary gift.
A Catholic, Lee has worked in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) team for adult faith formation in her parish for many years. She also trains lectors in the ministry of the Word, and is also a member of the Franciscan Third Order, the Ordo Franciscanus Secularis (OFS) or Secular Franciscans. Her leisure interests include many genres of music, and painting.
A videotaped interview with Lee Tzu Pheng is available on the Singapore Research Nexus, Faculty of Research & Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, National University of Singapore.
Author Photo and Biography © Lee Tzu Pheng. All rights reserved. Author Biography from Soul’s Festival: Collected Poems 1980-1997 (2014)