Returning for the 18th edition, Singapore Writers Festival – under the theme of “Island of Dreams” – looks to be an exciting array of old and new writers as well as featuring international names. Helming the event this year is the new Festival Director, Yeow Kai Chai, who is giving the festival a new breath of air with a refreshed format. The two-week event, which runs from 30 October to 8 November 2015, will include over 300 events, up from 271 events the previous year.
There is a launch of a Southeast Asia focus as part of the festival branding as the gateway to the region. In line with the theme, the country of focus is Indonesia, with its collection of 17000 islands. It will feature writers who will not just read but also share about their field, and include ethno music and visual projections. Some of the featured authors include poet Goenawan Mohamad, and other Indonesia writers such as Zen Hae, Ayu Utami. There will also be multi-disciplinary activities that include musical performances by Ubiet and Kroncong Tenggara, and a Batik Painting demonstration by Sujak Rahman.
The festival looks to deepen programming and broaden appeal with the launch of five festival tracks – SWF POP, SWF for Families, SWF Class, SWF Beyond and SWF Stage.
Talented musicians and singers such as The Lorong Boys, Wobology, Take Two and HubbaBubbas will be showcasing their works in this segment.
SWF For Families
What used to be Little Lit is now SWF for Families, emphasising that literature is all encompassing. The scope has also been expanded to include Young Adult writing, which has been growing exponentially but, until now, has not been covered properly. There will be a whole host of family-friendly events such as storytelling, workshops and panel discussions featuring writers such as Ah Guo, Adeline Foo, Emily Lim, Kenneth Quek and Chris Haughton.
Classes have been expanded exponentially and are suitable for writers from experienced practitioners to first-time writers. There is a free workshop conducted by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim for the pioneer generation. Writers who will conducting the classes include Yap Seow Choong, Roger Jenkins, Justin Cronin and Susan Orlean.
Heather McGregor, otherwise known as Mrs Moneypenny, will also be in town to conduct a class on “How To Write a Column”. She has been entertaining and informing readers with her weekly column in the Financial Times for 16 years. She presented the TV show ‘Superscrimpers’, while the ‘At Home with Mrs Moneypenny’ show has run at the Edinburgh Fringe and off Broadway. Also the bestselling author of Careers Advice for Ambitious Women, she has recently published the follow-up book, Financial Advice for Independent Women .
There will also be special classes such as type-setting. This ticketed class teaches you how to print your name onto a tote bag.
SWF Beyond takes the printed word to cross-genre, which includes film adaptations, translations of works and doing things that are new, brave and out there which may not be profitable, but will be mainstream one day.
One of the key trademarks that is different about the festival is the multilingualism. SWF Beyond goes on to break down the silos by taking the next logical step to experiment inter-lingualism and multilingualism. Translations of works is a hot topic for this segment, with the rise of translations between different languages to cater to a larger audience. It will feature writers such as Desmond Kon, Alfian Sa’at, Eric Tinsay Valles, Divya Victor, Gwee Li Sui, Jerrold Yam and Han Lao Da.
Apart from talks on translations of works, there will also be film screenings such as Snowpiercer, which was adapted from the graphic novel, Le Transperceniege. After which there will be a post-show dialogue with the writer and illustrator of the graphic novel, Jean-Marc Rochette and Olivier Bocquet.
Collaborating for the first time, SWF and Esplanade presents Dimensions and Demons which will be held on 5 November. It features Singapore writers and musicians working on original compositions. While it explores the theme of dreams, even that of lucid dreaming, inner demons and struggles, Dimensions and Demons seeks to present something a bit more forward looking at the end of it.
One of the highlights this year is an overnight program filled with drama, poetry, song-writing and prose called What I Love About You is Your Attitude Problem, which is curated by Checkpoint Theatre’s Huzir Sulaiman. It consists of an exciting series of 24 text-based performance events over 12 hours that will start at dusk on Friday, 6 November, to dawn on Saturday, 7 November.
Ending off the two-week festival is the ever-popular closing debate. This year’s topic is This House Believes That Singaporeans Are Not Dreamers. Standing out from the SG50 bombardment of values and hopes, Island of Dreams might look at dreams and aspirations, yes. But, it delves into nightmares too, which might not be good, but keeps you thinking about tomorrow.
Tickets are available through SISTIC from 25 September onwards. Early-bird tickets with discounts are available until 11 October 2015.