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Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey

Associate Professor

School of Humanities and Social Science (English)

The long and winding road

Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey artfully juggles creative writing and the research demands of an academic career.

Kim Cheng Boey

Research requires discipline and a dogged approach to gathering information and evidence. Creative writing requires a different kind of headspace, where the rewards are not always evident at the end of a long day.

"You can sit down all day sometimes and nothing comes. But you've still got to make yourself available. You've still got to report to work," he says, ever so gently.

In his line of work patience is imperative. Kim Cheng, who had established himself as a poet of renown in Singapore before migrating to Australia in the late 1990s, says it took nine years to put together Between Stations – a collection of travel essays set in richly evocative destinations such as Morocco, China, India and Egypt. Intertwined with this visual smorgasbord are long-researched elements of history and fragments of Kim Cheng's memories as an outsider in these places.

 "I'm glad I didn't rush it," he says. "I think I would have misread a lot of things if I hadn't persisted with real research; if I hadn't explored and looked hard at experience from different perspectives."

Kim Cheng says the writing journey gave him a "sense of arrival".

 "The acts of travel and migration, and the process of writing about them, have redefined who I am," he reflects. "There was the conventional research, when I was engaging with theories of travel and migration, digging into the history of the places I'd been and reading literary works set in these locations.

"But the more intense and challenging research was in rethinking the relationship between place and identity. Between Stations helped me discover connective threads between my research, teaching and writing. It allowed me to test some of the ideas I discovered when putting together the Creative Non-Fiction course [at the University of Newcastle].

"The challenge is to find a dynamic nexus between research, teaching and creative writing. Sometimes they can be odd bedfellows, but there can be a truly satisfying sense of coherence when they come together.

"There is always that fear that being an academic you have to make certain sacrifices in creative writing."

Nevertheless, he relishes the opportunity to be productive at a critical level. Kim Cheng has achieved two journal publications on contemporary Irish poetry and has also delved into Asian diasporic literature. Three essays exploring what it means to be an Asian Australian writer have become journal publications.

"It is particularly rewarding to a writer-academic when the critical and creative energise and nourish each other," he says. "But when you are writing critical pieces to deadline you have to put the creative aside and trust that you'll come back to it."

Kim Cheng says in his experience that faith has been well founded.

Writing poetry to deadline, though, is a very different kettle of fish.

"It is exhausting because of the sheer uncertainty," he says. "To students I tend to emphasise the fact that creative writing is a venture or a gamble. Some days you end with a blank page or screen, other days you can't seem to stop. Creative writing is taking a leap into the unknown. There is a lot of improvisation involved. It can be surprising and exhilarating.

"And the research element allows creative writers to progress at a deeper level. For example, travel writing in retrospect allows you to discover the meanings you may have missed while in the heat of the moment."

When Kim Cheng left Singapore in 1997, he travelled the world for a year. Stints in India, Morocco, China, Pakistan, Europe had a profound impact on him as a young man and as a writer. The homelessness, the poverty, the layer upon layer of history in these places spoke strongly to him.

"Travel reinforces the idea that we should take nothing for granted. This was a precious lesson. It unlocked a lot of things for me, leaving home and crossing borders, real and imaginary," he says, having sought to escape the repressive political climate of Singapore in the late 1980s and 1990s.

When Kim Cheng moved to Sydney, job searching proved futile. He had considered horticulture and medicine before winning a PhD scholarship at Macquarie University, where he immersed himself in contemporary Irish poetry, having done his Honours thesis on Seamus Heaney. "I fell in love with the wildness of it [the genre]," he says. "The Irish diaspora grabbed my imagination."

When Kim Cheng came to the University of Newcastle in 2003, he was a one-man creating writing department. Dr Keri Glastonbury followed in 2006 and Dr David Musgrave in 2009.

And while creative writing is essentially a solo pursuit, Kim Cheng says teamwork is manifest in the trio's ability to offer different areas of expertise.

"It has been good working with different writers. We can pool our experience and different knowledge together," he says.

"Creative writing involves working in different genres. The teamwork allows for specialisation and distribution of interests and expertise."

PhD student Joanna Atherfold is among those to benefit.

 "Kim Cheng Boey has mentored me from my undergraduate writing classes through to a PhD scholarship. This is a path I would not have considered without his support and ongoing faith in my ability," Atherfold said.

Amid teaching and supervising, of course, there are always deadlines for critical essays and creative work.

So how does Kim Cheng know when a work is ready to hand over to the publishers?

"Paul Valery says 'A poem is never finished, only abandoned'. More and more this applies to all that I do. You can only hope that there will be time to come back to it," he muses.

The Long and Winding Road - Kim Cheng Boey

The long and winding road

Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey artfully juggles creative writing and the research demands of an academic career.

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Research Expertise
- Literary Studies - Creative Writing

Qualifications

  • PhD, Macquarie University
  • Bachelor of Arts, National University of Singapore
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), National University of Singapore
  • Master of Arts, National University of Singapore

Keywords

  • Autobiography
  • Contemporary Irish Poetry
  • Literary Nonfiction
  • Literary Nonfiction, Travel Writing, Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Modernism
  • Modern and Contemporary Poetry
  • Modernism
  • Tang Poetry
  • Travel Writing

Languages

  • German (Fluent)
  • Chinese, nec (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
190499 Performing Arts and Creative Writing not elsewhere classified 65
199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified 15
200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified 20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Associate Professor University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/12/2008 - 1/03/2009 Judging Panel Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009
Australia
1/11/2008 - 1/03/2009 Judging Panel Arts NSW Premier Literary Awards 2009
Australia

Awards

Recipient

Year Award
2005 Kim Cheng Boey
Australia Council for the Arts
1996 Boey Kim Cheng
National Arts Council of Singapore

Invitations

Participant

Year Title / Rationale
2007 Singapore Writers Festival
Organisation: National Arts Council Singapore Description: Invitation to Singapore International Writers' Festival 2007 Expenses, flight and perdiem
2006 Kim Cheng Boey
Organisation: The Straits Times Description: I was interviewed about my book of poems "After the Fire" in the Straits Times. August 20, 2006

PhD Examiner

Year Title / Rationale
2009 Look Who's Morphing
Organisation: Deakin Description: I was asked by Deakin University to examine Tom Cho's Creative Writing PhD.
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Aitken A, Boey KC, Cahill M, Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, Puncher & Wattman, Glebe, NSW, 253 (2013) [A3]
2012 Harrison J, Boey KC, Coastline. 2012 Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, NSW, 127 (2012) [A3]

Chapter (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Boey K, '"the same tableau, intrinsically still": Arthur Yap, Poet-Painter', Common Lines and City Spaces: A critical anthology on Arthur Yap, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 42-72 (2014) [B1]
2013 Boey K, 'Frame by Frame: The Autobiographic Eye in the Late Poetry of Robert Lowell', Poetry & the Trace, Puncher & Wattmann, Glebe, Sydney 384-400 (2013) [B1]
2009 Boey KC, 'From the tentative to the conditional: Detachment and liminality in the poetry of Arthur Yap', Sharing Borders: Studies in Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian Literature II, National Arts Council, Singapore 22-35 (2009) [B1]

Journal article (20 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Boey K, '"Walking Between Land and Water": the Pedestrian Poetics of Shirley Geok-lin Lim', Asiatic, 8 72-84 (2014) [C1]
2014 Boey K, 'The Library of Memory', Biblioasia, 10 2-7 (2014) [C3]
2014 Boey K, '"Walking Between Land and Water": the Pedestrian Poetics of Shirley Geok-lin Lim', Asiatic, 8 72-84 (2014) [C1]
2013 Boey K, 'Toby Davidson's Beast Language', Cordite Poetry Review, - (2013) [C3]
2012 Boey KC, 'Burning rice by Eileen Chong [Review]', Mascara Literary Review, - 1 (2012) [C3]
2012 Boey KC, 'The middle distance: A reflection on craft and art', Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language & Literature, 6 19-30 (2012) [C1]
2011 Boey KC, 'Writing across/between borders: A transnational approach to creative writing in the Asia Pacific', Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, 10 1-16 (2011) [C1]
2010 Boey KC, 'Rambling on my mind. From between stations', Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writing, 10 100-108 (2010) [C2]
2010 Boey KC, 'Water the Moon by Fiona Sze-Lorrain', Mascara Literary Review, (2010) [C3]
2010 Boey KC, 'Aria by Sarah Holland-Batt', Mascara Literary Review, (2010) [C3]
2010 Boey KC, ''I am here, and there, and back again': The poetics of return in Ee Tiang Hong and Shirley Lim Geok-lin', Amerasia Journal, 36 91-105 (2010) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 1
2009 Boey KC, 'Eighth habitation', Mascara Literary Review, - - (2009) [C3]
2009 Boey KC, 'Man wolf man', Mascara Literary Review, - - (2009) [C3]
2009 Boey KC, 'Remembering Du Fu', Asiatic, 3 186-196 (2009) [C1]
2008 Boey KC, 'Sailing to an island: Contemporary Irish poetry visits the Western Islands', Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, 2 19-41 (2008) [C1]
2008 Boey KC, 'On first looking into Keats' 'To Autumn'', Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, 7 1-10 (2008) [C2]
2007 Boey KC, 'From the Hotel Maria', Meanjin, 66 8-17 (2007) [C3]
2006 Boey KC, 'The Dublin-Moscow line: Russia and the poetics of home in contemporary Irish poetry', Irish University Review, 36 353-373 (2006) [C1]
2006 Boey KC, 'Rubbing Out New Maps', Quarterly Literature Review Singapore, 5 online (2006) [C3]
2005 Boey KC, 'The Place of Writing', TEXT, 9 1-18 (2005) [C1]
Show 17 more journal articles

Creative Work (44 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Boey K, "Gleaning", "Stamp Collecting", "Clear Brightness", USA (2014) [J2]
2014 Boey K, "Change Alley" and "Rambling on My Mind", Hawaii (2014) [J2]
2014 Boey K, Dreaming of Li Bai, Hobart, Tasmania (2014) [J3]
2014 Boey K, "Plum Blossom" and other poems, Macao (2014) [J3]
2013 Boey K, 'Kolkata Raga' in Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, Leeds (2013) [J2]
Supanova
2013 Boey K, The Disappearing Suite, Redfern, NSW (2013) [J2]
2013 Boey K, What Love Is, Australia, Carlton South, Victoria (2013) [J2]
Supanova
2013 Boey K, from Chinatown, Melbourne (2013) [J2]
2012 Boey KC, The Year of the Horse, Humanities Research Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia (2012) [J2]
Supanova
2012 Boey KC, Chinatowns, Puncher & Wattmann, Glebe, NSW, Australia (2012) [J2]
Supanova
2012 Boey KC, Clear Brightness: New Poems, Singapore (2012) [J1]
Supanova
2011 Boey KC, Coast, Math Paper Press, Singapore (2011) [J2]
2011 Boey KC, Glebe, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, VIC, Australia (2011) [J2]
2011 Boey KC, Change Alley, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, VIC, Australia (2011) [J2]
Supanova
2011 Boey KC, Ahead My Father Moves, Department of English Language and Literature, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011) [J2]
2011 Boey KC, Clear Brightness, Department of English Language and Literature, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011) [J2]
Supanova
2011 Boey KC, Didgeridoo, Australian Studies Centre, Barcelona, Spain (2011) [J2]
2011 Boey KC, Rehabilitation, Ethos Books, Singapore (2011) [J2]
2011 Boey KC, The National Theatre, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Singapore (2011) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Running, Puncher & Wattmann, NSW, Australia (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Stamp collecting, Puncher & Wattmann, NSW, Australia (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Gleaning, Santa Barbara, Giramondo Publishing Company, NSW, Australia (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Arming Rituals, Ethos Books, Singapore (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Land's end, Ethos Books, Singapore (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Placenames, Ethos Books, Singapore (2010) [J2]
2010 Boey KC, Child, Ethos Books, Singapore (2010) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, Elgar and the watch my father gave me, Print Work Ltd, Hong Kong (2009) [J2]
Supanova
2009 Boey KC, La Mian in Melbourne, Australian Book Review Inc., Richmond South, VIC (2009) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, In transit, NUS Press, Singapore (2009) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, Another place, NUS Press, Singapore (2009) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, Placenames, NUS Press, Singapore (2009) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, Plum blossom or Quong tart at the QVB, NUS Press, Singapore (2009) [J2]
Supanova
2009 Boey KC, Stamp collecting, NUS Press, Singapore (2009) [J2]
2009 Boey KC, Between Stations: Essays, Artermon, NSW (2009) [J1]
Supanova
2008 Boey KC, No more, Black Inc, Melbourne, VIC, Australia (2008) [J2]
Supanova
2008 Boey KC, Dinky's house of Russian goods, Singapore, OL Society, Footscray, VIC (2008) [J2]
2008 Boey KC, Wanton with James, W. W. Norton, New York, The United States of America (2008) [J2]
2008 Boey KC, Remedies, Ethos Books, Singapore (2008) [J2]
2008 Boey KC, Placenames, Ethos Books, Singapore (2008) [J2]
2008 Boey KC, Day of no name, Ethos Books, Singapore (2008) [J2]
Supanova
2008 Boey KC, Stamp collecting, Ethos Books, Singapore (2008) [J2]
Supanova
2006 Boey KC, After the fire : new and selected poems, - (2006) [J1]
2005 Boey KC, Plum Blossom or Quong Tart at the QVB, Melbourne University Press, Carlton (2005) [J2]
2003 Boey KC, Losing Alexandria, Giramondo Publishing Company, Newcastle, Australia (2003) [J2]
Show 41 more creative works

Other (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Boey K, 'Archipelago, Clear Brightness, Wanton With James, La Mian in Melbourne, Beslan, Days of No Name, San Francisco With James, Bach in Leipzieg,, Blue Note, Another Place', Poetry International. Rotterdam: Poetry International (2013)
2013 Boey K, 'Interview with Kim Cheng Boey', . Rotterdam: Poetry International (2013)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 3
Total funding $9,250

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20101 grants / $2,000

2009 FEA Award for Research Excellence$2,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey
Scheme Award for Research Excellence
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G1000402
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20081 grants / $750

Poetry and the Trace, Monash, 13/7/2008 - 16/7/2008$750

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0189182
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20051 grants / $6,500

Beyond the Last Frontier: An Imaginary Life of Du Fu the Tang Dynasty Poet$6,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey
Scheme Early Career Researcher Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2005
Funding Finish 2005
GNo G0185711
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed18
Current8

Total current UON EFTSL

Masters0.5
PhD2.85

Current Supervision

Commenced Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 Tarare
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2015 From Generation to Generation: Searching Through the Archives of History and Memory
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2015 Implied Politics and the Politics of Language in Australian Poetic Contemporaneity
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2014 'Indianness' and Outsiders: Novels of the British Raj and Contemporary India.
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2011 The 'Legless' Novel Project
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2011 Watermark: a Liminal Approach to Autobiographical Short Fiction
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2009 Relatively Friendly Strangers: A Creative Writing Memoir
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2007 Two-voiced Memoir
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 Living Like Common People
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2015 Taking My Breath
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2014 Overflow
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2014 The Mandorla: A Spiritual Memoir
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2013 Unruly Women
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2013 What Came Between - Short Story Cycle and Critical Exegesis
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2012 The Most Beautiful Place in the World
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2012 Porch Light and James Merrill House and the Angels Inside: Voice as Cosmology
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2011 Bachelor Dad on Her Doorstep
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2009 A Taste of Dreams
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2008 Marriages, Microscopes and Missions: Three Women in Postwar Australia
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2008 I Was Here
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2008 River of Many Fallen Trees
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2008 D A Contemporary Australian Dystopia: Novel and Critical Exegesis
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2006 Place of Birth: Origins and Concepts
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2005 Charting Kate
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Principal Supervisor
2005 The Body Inside
Literature, Faculty of Education and Arts
Sole Supervisor
2005 The Body Inside
Literature, Faculty of Health and Medicine
Sole Supervisor
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News

Creative writing graduate research

Creative writing graduate research at Newcastle

March 1, 2014

Creative writing graduate research program – a University of Newcastle success story.

Michael Sala The Last Thread

Graduate's debut novel wins two awards

February 1, 2014

University of Newcastle creative writing PhD graduate Michael Sala Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize and the New South Wales Premier's Award for New Writing.

Associate Professor Kim Cheng Boey

Position

Associate Professor
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

English

Contact Details

Email kimcheng.boey@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6780
Fax (02) 4921 6933

Office

Room MC142
Building McMullin Building.
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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