Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), organised by the National Arts Council (NAC), celebrates its historic 20th edition this year with the Festival theme ‘Aram’, as part of a larger narrative arc starting with last year’s ‘Sayang’ theme.
From its premiere as a programme under the larger Singapore Festival of Arts in 1986 to its present reputation as one of Asia’s top literary events, the festival SWF has progressed from being a presentation platform to an inclusive learning programme, reaching out to engage all Singaporeans with its multifarious activities all year-round. As part of NAC’s efforts to broaden the reach and access to literary arts, SWF remains the key platform in profiling home-grown writers so that more Singaporeans can experience, appreciate and be inspired by our writers and Singapore literature (SingLit), as well as getting to meet the world’s top and emerging literary talents.
Over the past 30 years, the Festival has become an exciting meeting point of writers, academics and thinkers in a choice spread of panel discussions, workshops, lectures and performances. To mark this major milestone, this year’s programming will recreate several panels from various editions, and a SWF20 exhibition will be held at this year’s Festival featuring a chronology of SWF (see Annex A) and various memorabilia from each edition. A commemorative booklet featuring SWF trivia and a special essay by Gwee Li Sui will also be put together.
In conjunction with this, SWF this year will also celebrate Singaporean poet Anne Lee Tzu Pheng in a series of Literary Pioneer events curated by The Arts House. Events under the Literary Pioneer umbrella include the first-ever Literary Pioneer lecture by Lee – an exhibition curated using her five published works, a SingLit 101 lecture on her and her works by literary critic Gwee Li Sui and a night of readings featuring friends, authors and family.
“It’s important to remember the past and acknowledge the contributions of those who have come before us,” says SWF Festival Director Yeow Kai Chai. “Today, the Festival aims to engender a sense of curiosity about the world we live in now, and how each of us can strive to make it a better place for all.”
This year’s theme ‘Aram’ (அறம் pronounced ah-ruhm) takes inspiration from the ancient text – Thirukkural which is widely revered as the most influential literary work in Tamil. Anchoring numerous programmes at SWF, the theme of ‘Aram’ zeroes in on the universal ethical concept of what it truly means to be “good”, and seeks to question ethical quandaries and moral conundrums.
The Festival, which takes place from 3 – 12 November 2017, will also feature Ireland as its Country Focus. The contingent of eight Irish authors include poet and editor Gerald Dawe, whose poems chronicle Irish modern history in tumultuous times; short-story writer Colin Barrett whose first book Young Skins (2013) won both the Guardian First Book Award and the Frank O’ Connor Short Story International Prize in 2014; playwright and short-story writer Paul McVeigh whose first novel, The Good Son (2015), won the Polari First Book Prize and the McCrea Literary Award; Irish short story writer Claire Keegan has been translated into 15 languages and her standalone book Foster (2010) won the 2009 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award; novelist Rob Doyle’s first book Here Are the Young Men was chosen as one of the ’20 Greatest Irish Novels from 1916-2016; young Adult book writer Deirdre Sullivan, widely acclaimed for her trilogy on the teenage years of Primrose Leary; novelist and playwright Éilís Ní Dhuibhne who infuses folklore elements in her novels for young people; and Lingo festival (Dublin) poetry slam champion Abby Oliviera.
More info on www.singaporewritersfestival.com
When: 3 - 12 Nov 2017,