Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Singapore Writers Festival

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The Singapore Writers Festival is a literary event organised by the National Arts Council. Inaugurated in 1986, the festival serves a dual function of promoting new and emerging Singaporean and Asian writing to an international audience, as well as presenting foreign writers to Singaporeans.

Contents

SWF has had literary luminaries such as Singapore writers Shamini Flint, Meira Chand, Alvin Pang, Suchen Christine Lim, You Jin, as well as international writers such as Steven Levitt, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, Bi Feiyu, David Mitchell, Bei Dao, F. Sionil Jose, Taichi Yamada, Andrew Motion, Alexis Wright and Marc Smith.

To date, it remains one of the few literary festivals in the world that is multi-lingual, celebrating works in Singapore’s official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

History

Formerly known as the Singapore Writers’ Week, the Singapore Writers’ Festival started in 1986 as a component of the Singapore Festival of Arts (now known as Singapore Arts Festival) that focuses on the merit of the literary arts. It was presented outside the Festival of Arts for the first time in 1991 as recognition and awareness for literary arts in Singapore grew. [1] Since then, SWF has been held every two years, until 2011 when it went annual.

The festival has traditionally been organised by the National Arts Council (NAC). However, since 2007, NAC has been working with The Arts House (TAH), to co-organise the festival. SWF 2007 attracted more than 21,000 attendees and SWF 2011 attracted more than 50,000 attendees.

In July 2014, writer Ovidia Yu resigned from the festival's steering committee in protest against the National Library Board's move to pulp children's picturebooks with homosexual themes. NLB is a programme partner of the festival.

In November 2015, the festival will be helmed by poet Yeow Kai Chai, who takes over from director Paul Tan. The festival will also return to The Arts House and hold its activities in the Empress Place Civic District.

Golden-Point Award

The Golden-Point Award (GPA) started in 1993 and has been organised in conjunction with SWF by the National Arts Council of Singapore. With official sponsorship from SPH and Singapore Press Holdings Foundation in 2009 and 2011, the award was given the additional title of the SPH-NAC Golden Point Award.

It is the only national literary writing competition for poetry and short story in Singapore which promotes the art of creative writing in all four official languages (English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil). Many past winners are now well-established writers (e.g. Alfian Sa'at, Cyril Wong, Claire Tham, Anuar Othman).

In its aim to uncover new writing talent in Singapore, a new guideline was introduced in 2007 where only unpublished writers are eligible for the competition. This is also to differentiate SPH-NAC GPA from other literary prizes which focus on published works. While the new rule sparked some debate and attracted due attention, the result was an overall increase in both the number of participants and entries for the competition.

Since 1997, the First Prize winners of SPH-NAC GPA have received an Enrichment Grant of up to S$6,000. This aim of this grant is to provide writers with sufficient funds to participate in writing seminars, workshops, literature festivals overseas, or to publish their first solo publication.

References

Singapore Writers Festival Wikipedia


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