The Orchid Folios

A pot shatters. An arrangement falls apart. A florist finds herself amidst the scattered leaves of history. At once a poetry collection and a documentary novella, The Orchid Folios reimagines the orchid as a living, breathing document of history: a history that enmeshes the personal, colonial, linguistic, and biotechnological with the Vanda Miss Joaquim, the symbol of Singapore’s postcolonial hybridity. While the Orchid has shaped the fantastical narratives that govern our multiracial City in a Garden, it continues to shape-shift and bloom on its own terms, challenging us to imagine a decolonised Singapore.

Excerpt from The Orchid Folios

Orchids on stamps. Orchids in Ikea-white vases on dining tables. Orchids crowded by the cashiers at Giant, under fluorescent light. These days orchids are seemingly everywhere. When I was small we were a Garden City, now we are a City in a Garden. Here we have spotted moths in atas bathrooms, dendrobiums braided into the steel frames of Supertrees, Miss Joaquims frozen and fixed onto the lobes of elegant women. Late Wednesday morning a taitai came in to blow aircon, and for the rest of the day my plants and I breathed her scent, a vague floral musk.

Ethos Books
2020

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mok Zining

Mok Zining is obsessed with random things like orchids, arabesques and sand. She is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Minnesota, where she taught creative writing. Zining is presently a research associate at SMU. She spends most of her free time working on an essay collection—tentatively titled The Earthmovers—about sand. The Orchid Folios is her first book.