The Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) 2015 will be returning at the end of October, from 30 October – 8 November 2015! This time around there will be over 300 different events split into 5 different categories, SWF Stage (Marquee Events), SWF Class (Workshops & Masterclasses), SWF for Families, SWF Beyond (Transcending Language and Genre) and SWF Pop (Fun & Surprising Pop-Ups). Due to the sheer number of events available, without a more in-depth look at the programme itself, you’d probably miss out on exciting events that you had no idea about! Fret not, here are some of our picks of ‘Can’t Miss Events of SWF 2015!’
30 Oct (Fri)
1. Utter 2015: Head Trips at US Embassy Screening Room (8.30 – 9.30pm)
This is where the best of local literature talent, short stories and poetry by renowned Singaporean writers as Alfian Sa’at, Amanda Lee Koe, Dave Chua, Chow Teck Seng and Vanessa Ng are transformed from words on paper into animation! Their text are brought to life by established and emerging animation directors as Tan Wei Keong, Samantha Seah, Henry and Harry Zhuang, Ang Qing Sheng and Darran Kuah. This is perfect to see two different mediums combine to bring out the best of one another.
31 Oct (Sat)
2. Songwriting with Hollie Fullbrook at Timbre Music Academy (10am – 1pm)
Local music can be fairly described as rather vibrant with a huge range of different bands and artists to cater to an entire spectrum of taste. However, it would also be fair to say that the singer-songwriter (a la Gentle Bones, The Sam Willows, etc) is among the most popular, well at least the most popular to emulate! SWF has the perfect event for aspiring musicians & songwriters as Tiny Ruins’ frontwoman – Hollie Fullbrook (winner of the Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards 2014) will be conducting a workshop. In this workshop, she will share her songwriting process and participants will also get a chance in writing exercises involving wordplay and rhyming strategies. Take a listen to her beautiful song to decide for yourself if she’s qualified to dispense such advice (our answer is a resounding YES!)
3. Writing for Performance featuring Jeyamohan at Indian Heritage Center (10am – 2pm)
Jeyamohan is a famous Tamil novelist and film scriptwriter whose film credits include Papanasam, Kaaviya Thalaivan and Naan Kadavul. He is incredibly well-known in India as one of the most influential writer and critic ever since the 1990s. However, his focus at SWF will be about sharing his insights on the relationship between the literary and performing arts. As someone who has excelled in both, achieving critical acclaim for his works in both, I would say he has an entire treasure trove of experience and knowledge to share. He will be sharing about his experience writing stories, screenplays and dialogues for films using literature. This is a coup for the Tamil speaking community and for writers & screenplay writers seeking to excel in Tamil or perhaps simply learn from the Tamil literature and film scene.
4. China Re-Visioned (另一个中国) at Victoria Theatre (1.15 – 4.15pm)
With the rise in China and its constant need to flex its political and military muscle, many countries (especially those in Asia) have started to take China far more seriously as a world super-power and many have tried to understand & decipher the enigma that is China. In this lecture by Xu Zhiyuan (pictured below), columnist for Financial Times Chinese and winner of the SOPA Award for Excellence in Opinion Writing 2008 along with Chip Tsao, a Hong Kong based columnist well known for his sarcasm and wry sense of humour. They will both be bringing their insight and varied experience and viewpoints into this promising engagement, after all, who better to learn about China than the people living and shaping China itself? For poor Mandarin speakers (such as myself!), this event is also perfect for you as there will be a simultaneous English translation.
5. Epic International Poetry Night at British Council Gallery (8.30 – 10.00pm)
Poetry lovers, this is the most economical poetry event (by far) at SWF 2015! 7 acclaimed poets from all around the world, Mina Ishikawa, Michael Farrell, Myay Hmone Lwin, Ravi Shankar, Tang Jui Piow, Heng Siok Tian, Linh Dinh read their works in the perfect night of poetry. All 7 of them are talented in their own right yet write poetry that is as different from one another as summer is different from winter. Thus, this is the perfect event to be exposed and to enjoy a variety of beautiful poetry.
1 Nov (Sun)
6. Unravelling Haruki Murakami at The Arts House (2.30 – 3.30pm)
Murakami is a widely beloved author (and one of my favourite as well) yet his work which invokes dreams, the supernatural/magic and with memorable, unforgettable characters is considered mainstream to the world but yet is an outsider in Japan. Translator Motoyuki Shibata and critic Roland Kelts join Ted Goossen, the translator of Murakami’s latest English release, Wind/Pinball, for a discussion on their elusive jazz-loving friend Murakami, his writing, and his influence. The only thing that could have made this event better was if Murakami himself was present!
7. What Dreams Reveal About Our Secrets and Desires by Deborah Levy at Victoria Theatre (4.00 – 5.00pm)
Dreams have long been a point of fascination for us, from Egyptian Pharohs with their dream interpreters to Sigmund Freud’s obsession with dreams; it is no different in the 21st century. Booker-Prize nominee, Deborah Levy once said that dreams ‘tell us something we don’t want to know we know.’ The unconscious, stuff that we try to repress often come alive in dreams and more often than not, it isn’t all just rainbows and unicorns. Using dreams as a medium, Levy will discuss about the obsession of need and want including reading excerpts from her Man Booker shortlisted novel, Swimming Home among others. This should make for an interesting session!
5 Nov (Thu)
8. Michael Sandel on The Moral Limits of Markets at University Cultural Center (UCC) NUS (7.00 – 8.00pm)
Despite not being a ‘literature’ writer, I would have to say that SWF to have gotten Michael Sandel is an absolute coup! Michael Sandel is a Harvard professor on Political Philosophy and is well known for his Harvard course ‘Justice’ which can also be found on YouTube with millions of views! The popularity of his course has been attributed to both the style of teaching (discussion-oriented format) as well as the charisma of Sandel himself. In this 1 hour lecture, Sandel will lead a sure to be vibrant discussion of markets, democracy and some of the ethical questions that we face as a global community today. Food for thought, Do bankers deserve to make a hundred times more than what school teachers earn? Is the free market fair? What have we learned from the Eurozone and China financial crisis? And what are the real cost of economic inequality and the role of markets in achieving the public good.
9. Dimensions & Demons at the Esplanade, Recital Studio (8.00 – 9.30pm)
Earlier on was the creative best of both worlds involving local writers and animators, this time we have something equally exciting! A creative mashup between writers and musicians! Representing our local writers are Darren Shiau, Dave Chua and Stephanie Ye. On the other side, we have Riot !n Mangenta (who will be playing Laneway Singapore 2016), .gif and Jean Low! Writers will collaborate for musicians to write original compositions and I for one am excited to see the result of this collaboration!
7 Nov (Sat)
10. Songs of SG51-60 at Barber Shop (5.30 – 6.30pm)
Sezairi Sezali and Gentle Bones (Joel Tan) who form the foundation of the recent revival of mainstream local music will in 1 hour lead a lively discussion about music in Singapore as well play select songs from their repertoire. Both will discuss about topics that are frankly up in the air; what it takes to be an established musician in Singapore and the direction that our local music is taking. This is a great opportunity for both their fans’ to hear them speak more than sing and for local music fans in general.
11. Adaptaion at US Embassy Screening Room (6.00 – 9.00pm)
This is definitely one of the most interesting events at SWF 2015. There will be a screening of the film Adaptation directed by Spike Jonze in 2002 (who has since gone on to direct Where The Wild Things Are and Her) but instead of Jonze, SWF has instead gotten Susan Orlean to be a part of the event. Why Susan Orlean you may ask. Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief was the source of inspiration for the movie with, interestingly, its primary narrative focus is Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film. Susan Orlean will be present for a post show dialogue. I can’t wait to see how this will turn out!
8 Nov (Sun)
12. International Criminal Minds at National Gallery (11.30 am – 12.30 pm)
Join acclaimed crime writers, Sophie Hannah, Nils Nordberg, Fuminori Nakamura & Alice Clark-Platt as they discuss the appeal of the crime fiction genre and the differences among its varied sub genres. Crime fiction is a hugely popular genre, just think about the universal appeal of Sherlock Holmes and his appearance in literature, film and even television shows! I’m excited for Fuminori Nakamura whose novel, The Thief led to him being awarded the 2010 Oe Kenzaburo Prize! What’s fascinating about this panel is the diversity of the panelists, as such, they will discuss about how their cultural background has also contributed or influenced them.
13. Indie Publishing Heroes at The Arts House (11.30 am – 12.30 pm)
Indie publishers, from Malaysia’s Buku Fixi and Dubook Press as well as our very own Math Paper Press by BooksActually have given countless local and Malaysian authors the opportunity to have their works published. It has given aspiring authors something to look forward to (getting their work published) and have given readers something new to read. The masterminds behind these 3 indie publishing houses will share their lessons about being an indie publisher. Considering how niche their work is, I am actually fascinated at the inner workings and struggles of being an indie publisher.
14. Migrant Worker Poets at The Japan Foundation Play Den (2.30 – 3.30pm)
Migrant workers are a huge part of Singapore, not merely in terms of their population but also their work and service here. However, beyond cliche stereotypes, I must confess that we hardly know anything about the migrant stories. Last year, a group of migrant poets made headlines in the inaugural Migrant Worker Poetry Competition. This session will feature the latest winners of the competition’s second edition, alongside organiser Shivaji Das and judge Alvin Pang.
Finally, we have come to an end to our ‘Can’t Miss Events for SWF 2015.’ However, there are still plenty more events to check out, so pay a visit to the SWF website! Tickets including Festival Passes ($20) and individual events are also available so get yours now!