Author & Poet
"The only thing that keeps me
going through this eclipse
is the memory of having
once kissed Eternity's lips."
Kagan Goh was born in Singapore in 1969. After years of traveling, he emigrated with his family to Canada in 1986 and now resides in Vancouver. He is a published author, spoken word poet, journalist, playwright, mental health advocate, and activist.
In 1993, at the age of twenty-three, Kagan Goh was diagnosed with manic depression. He was arrested by eight police officers for creating a disturbance in a church. The priest’s suspicions were aroused when Kagan innocently donated a stale loaf of bread to the collection tray, with the reasoning that the bread symbolized the body of Christ. The police report cited that he was a “drunk Native Indian who was on drugs” and claimed that he had “assaulted a police officer” (which was not true). The charges were eventually dropped when a psychiatrist diagnosed Kagan with manic depression, also known as bipolar mood disorder. Over a period of twelve years, he suffered several manic, psychotic, and depressive episodes and a dozen hospitalizations.
The son of Goh Poh Seng—a doctor and Singaporean literary pioneer, poet, novelist, and playwright—Kagan similarly discovered himself as a writer, returning time and again to the written word to express his emotions and experiences as he struggled with the exhilarating highs and frightening lows that characterize bipolar disorder.
Kagan has become a well-known spoken word artist, essayist, and poet—a respected and established voice in Vancouver’s literary community for more than two decades. He has performed at open mics, readings, festivals, and on radio and has published in numerous anthologies, periodicals, and magazines. In 2012, Select Books in Singapore published his poetic memoir, Who Let in the Sky?, which focused on his relationship with his esteemed father. Kagan is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker with a number of releases, including the award-winning Mind Fuck (1996) and Stolen Memories (2012); his films have been broadcast on national television and gained entry into respected film festivals across Canada.
Central to Kagan’s artistic work is a desire to humanize the struggles of those with mental health challenges and to fight stigmas that hold people back. His creative process involves critical self-reflection—not only as an artist who lives with a mental illness but as a spokesperson and mental health advocate and activist. While he uses his life experiences to shape and mold his stories, he is always conscious of the larger context and picture of how his stories touch the lives of people living with mental illness and their friends, families, and loved ones.
Today, more than twenty years since his diagnosis, Kagan has largely overcome the challenges of those painful early years. He strives for a life of stability, health, and wellness and has become a spokesperson, mentor, mental health advocate, activist, and role model. Born in Singapore, Kagan grew up in rural Newfoundland and urban British Columbia and continues to make his home in Vancouver, BC.
IN THE PRESS
'KAGAN GOH'S BREAKOUT SEASON'
- Tom Sandborn,
'MARK OF A MAVERICK - KAGAN GOH'S ARTISTIC CONFRONTATION OF STIGMAS AND STEREOTYPES'
- Haley Cameron,
'READ ALL OVER -
- Erica Mattson,
VANCOUVER IS AWESOME
'RECOLLECTIONS OF DAVID BOWIE'S SERIOUS MOONLIGHT TOUR TO SINGAPORE'
METRO LIVING ZINE