Amber: The Teenage Chapbook is a magazine that showcases Southeast Asia’s teenage writers and creators.
We started this platform because we’ve been teenage writers–pretty recently, actually (although increasingly less so). The teenage years and teenage writings are full of angst, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The things we write at that age are snapshots of us at that age: young, turbulent, messy, confused, insecure, just starting to figure out who we are. This magazine is a love letter to–or at the very least an embracing of–those years, regardless of how much we might look back on it and cringe.
The zine started directed at Singaporean writers. From Issue 2 onwards, however, we’re delighted to be expanding our submission calls to teenage creators from the whole of Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia continues to be relatively underrepresented in the media, and we would love to provide a space that celebrates specifically SEAsian voices.
Amber is the colour of our first EZ Links and the light that flashes on the gantry when a student card taps into the MRT. It’s the colour of sunsets and sunrises, those transitional times of day. It’s also the colour of lights that tell you to slow down — but who ever knows how to respond when the light turns orange? Amber is our colour of warning and uncertainty and change, of not being quite sure whether to come to a halt or put the foot on the accelerator and burst forward with everything you have. It’s being unsure of how quickly things will change around you. It’s also the colour of that infamous romantic grey zone–uncertain about one’s relationship status, still poking toes in the ocean. It is, in these ways, a rather teenage colour.
The Teenage Chapbook is a nod to Adrian Tan’s 1989 novel The Teenage Textbook, and its sequel The Teenage Workbook–a duology about the lives, mishaps and romantic entanglements of a group of JC students. The tagline is an homage to Singapore’s literary history, and captures the relevant themes as well.
Wen-yi Lee first envisioned the magazine while sitting in a cat café. She is a liberal arts graduate who likes theatre, staring at nature, and adding too many books to her TBR list. She writes frequently about girls with bite, ghosts, and feral nature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Speculative City and Luna Station Quarterly, among others, and has been featured by Tor. Her self-publishing credits include novels written in notebooks purchased from the school bookshop and a defunct Wattpad profile; her actual books are represented by Isabel Kaufman at Fox Literary. She can be found on Twitter at @wenyilee_ or otherwise at wenyileewrites.com.
Kimberley Chia loves to dance and write poetry — unfortunately not quite at the same time (yet). She’s particularly fond of modern dance, which is the sort where they roll around on the floor lots and everyone leaves the theatre more confused than before. A current politics postgraduate in Cambridge, her poems been published in SingPoWriMo.com, Clare Market Review, and Keluar Baris, among others. Her poetry was shortlisted for SingLit Station’s Manuscript Bootcamp in 2021. She has also written academically for the LSE Undergraduate Political Review. Currently, she is working on a manuscript as well as the chronic fear of having her work seen. She can be reached at email@example.com (or at her wannabe film account, @catchingpenumbras).
Christian Yeo is currently working on his manuscript. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Mays, Anthropocene, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Menacing Hedge, Ekstasis Magazine, The Tiger Moth Review, The Book of Bad Betties (Bad Betty Press), This Is Not A Safety Barrier (Ethos Books), and the jfa human rights journal, among others. He won the Arthur Sale Poetry Prize 2019, was runner-up for the Aryamati Poetry Prize 2021, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, Sykes Prize, and CUPPS Poetry and Prose Prize in 2021. He has read his work at the Lancaster and Singapore Poetry Festivals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yasha Lai is unfortunately not a writer, despite her childhood dreams. A social anthropology graduate from London, she still clings onto her other childhood dream of being some form of designer. She can most commonly be found wearing oversized shirts and overalls, sleeping in till noon, drinking coffee at overpriced cafes, and doodling during Zoom classes — those procrastinate-y doodles can be found on Instagram at @hojichasha.
For any inquiries, please email email@example.com.
Photos on this page: Erik Nam, chuttersnap (via Unsplash), Wen-yi Lee