#BuySingLit is very aptly spreading the love this year—of Singaporean stories, that is. The nationwide initiative celebrating local literature is back Mar 9-11, with more than 50 innovative programmes tailored to boost interest and support of local writers.
One such highlight is the project Love Letters to Singapore, put together by publisher Ethos Books and Singapore Post. Twelve Singaporean writers were tasked to pen an ode to their neighborhood, and come March SingPost will deliver 240,000 copies of the letters, randomly, to Singaporeans living in these neighborhoods.
Pick a title, any title, at the BuySingLit display at Popular Bookstore at Bras Basah Complex
It’s sweet, nostalgic—and hopefully will work to pique interest in local lit. The lucky neighborhoods include Aljunied, Chinatown, Clementi, Macpherson, Queenstown, River Valley, Sembawang, Toa Payoh, Tiong Bahru and Yishun; while the honeyed words themselves will come from the likes of Cyril Wong, Josephine Chia and Nur-el-hudaa.
In addition to Love Letters, the public can look forward to free art installations, performances and more, backed by the National Arts Council and involving homegrown publishers, retailers and literary non-profits. Here’s what to get excited about.
Getting book recommendations from a capsule machine
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and pick up a local title. But which one? For all the kids-at-heart who miss the days of wasting pocket money on capsule machines, BuySingLit is jumping in with a throwback to help curious readers out. Customized “Tikam Books” machines will be located at various bookstores in Singapore to reignite that cheap thrill. This time, though, $2 will get you a mini local book recommendation, a limited edition book cover pin, plus a $10 #BuySingLit book voucher.
Simulated conversations with real authors online
Engaging with the written word isn’t a one-way street. Choose to connect with local authors like Farihan Bahron and Tania De Rozario with the specially created “Chatbooks”, which utilize Facebook Messenger to simulate and hold conversations. The chatbot begins with you clicking “Send Message” on the #BuySingLit Facebook page, after which you can continue to chat with and hear stories from the writers themselves. Audio and visual plug-ins make the experience that much more visually stimulating.
Art installations around Bras Basah Complex
Portal of Books, a previous installation done by Kelly Limerick
Over the years, “City of Books” Bras Basah Complex has undeniably become an institution of sorts in the creative scene. In acknowledging that, the complex will play host to four outdoor art installations sited at various bookstores around the space. Curated by visual arts organization OH! Open House, the line-up includes artists Kelly Limerick, Berny Tan, and Lai Yu Ting. Crotchet artist Kelly Lim (who goes by the pseudonym kllylmrck), was assigned to Maha Yuyi bookstore, and has plans to create an arch over the bookstore, out of yarn spun from the traditional tear-away calendars Maha Yuyi sells.
Free performances, readings, workshops and exhibitions
Extending the movement into an all-out mini festival is Textures—A Weekend with Words by The Arts House. The event packs over 30 activities into the three days, combining an array of genres that range from fiction and theater to music and poetry, conducted in all languages. Some highlights not to miss are Recitals of Yesteryear: Kata-kata Kita, a performance-based forum revisiting Malay children songs; a reading of the literary works from former Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam; graphic novel workshop Making Comics!; and a multi-media exhibition Out of Print, which showcases the history of Singapore literature via modern graphic design techniques. If you’re in the mood to drop some dough, ticketed play The Page on Stage will see two actors perform stories by some of the island’s best—namely Gopal Baratham, Colin Cheong, Philip Jeyaretnam, and Simon Tay.
Buying books, of course
BuySingLit Bazaar 2017
After all that effort, you’d better be off to pick up a book for yourself. The #BuySingLit Bazaar will take place across all three days at the Blue Room in The Arts House, where you can thumb through the best of the local publishing scene. It’s time to make Singapore literature great again.
#BuySingLit 2018 is happening Mar 9-11 at various locations. More information here.