The Prospect of Beauty

The Singapore Writers Festival will be held this year from 31 October to 9 November in Singapore. Jonathan Lethem gives the opening lecture “Words Are Not Paint: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cultural References.” Robert Pinsky speaks on jazz and poetry. In addition to giving a reading, Paul Muldoon conducts a poetry master class. Geoff Dyer unlocks the story in a photograph. David Hine, who has written X-Men and Daredevil for Marvel, reveals the secrets of storytelling in the graphic novel.

Local writers are out in force. Alfian Sa’at, Benjamin Lee and Neil Humphreys discuss the art of satire, a panel moderated by Li Gwee Sui. Apart, “an experimental blend of theatrical and poetic forms, drawing on the confessional work of poets, Cyril Wong, Tania De Rozario, Pooja Nansi, Joshua Ip and Jollin Tan, and dramaturged by playwright Joel Tan,” is an event to watch. Jolene Tan and Deepika Shetty join Nigerian writer Mahesh Rao in describing their journey to publishing their first novel. Krishna Udayasankar, Loretta Chen, and Heng Siok Tian celeberate the map of the female body. Alvin Pang, Angelia Poon and Toh Hsien Min speak with Koh Tai Ann on the challenges of editing anthologies and journals.

SWF is one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world. Authors writing in the four official languages of Singapore–English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil–will read and discuss their work. That’s not all. Translation will also speak in its various tongues. Leonard Ng, Shirley Lee and John H McGlynn describe the process of translating poetry from Chinese, Korean and Bahasa Indonesia respectively.

The theme for this year’s festival is “The Prospect of Beauty.” It marks the end of a tenure, as this festival is director Paul Tan’s last. Next year’s festival will see writer Yeow Kai Chai at the helm. The theme looks forward into the future, even as it bids farewell to the past. Over at Molly Roffey’s Irish pub, in a heartfelt tribute to the festival theme, Ann Ang, Joshua Ip, and Pooja Nansi read poems about Beauty, with a pint of Guinness in hand, SP hopes.



About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

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