Singapore Writers Festival honors Irish literature in its 20th installment

Ireland has been announced as this year’s Country Focus for the Singapore Writers Festival. Returning for its 20th edition, the festival spotlights a different country each year, to link cultures and bring greater awareness to the literary scenes of our neighboring countries—both near and far.

If Ireland seems like an obscure choice, it isn’t; particularly if you’re a fan of literary bigwigs like Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and C.S. Lewis, to name a few. Previous country focuses included Japan in 2016, and Indonesia in 2015. In a statement, SWF explained selecting Ireland for having produced some of the world’s greatest craftsmen in literature, many of whom have bagged prestigious awards like the Nobel Prize. The Singapore-Ireland collaboration, then, will mean performances and appearances by writers and performers from Ireland and Singapore, in a novel literary exchange beginning now till Nov.

The first of the cross-cultural programming kicks off on Jul 27 with Islands of the Mind: Ireland and Singapore—A Cultural Evening, a cozy event co-organized by Nanyang Technological University’s English division. Held at The Projector, it will feature performances from prominent Irish and Singaporean writers, such as Julian Gough and Marina Carr, and Pooja Nansi and Samuel Lee respectively. Islands is part of SWF POP, a year-long series of events leading up to the festival (Nov 3-12) that aims to bring literary arts to audiences in a fun and accessible manner.

As for the festival’s theme, it’s a return to more local roots with the theme “Aram”—a word in Tamil meaning “goodness” and “doing good”. The word itself appears most famously in the ancient text Thirukkural, which is widely revered as the most influential literary work in the language.

Frankly, given the state of things in the world today—aram all around, please.

Islands of the Mind: Ireland and Singapore—A Cultural Evening takes place Jul 27, 6:45pm, at The Projector, Redrum. Admission is free.