Taking place from Nov 1 to 10, the 22nd edition of the Singapore Writers Festival, organised by the National Arts Council, encompasses hundreds of workshops, panel discussions, lectures and performances with the theme “A Language of Our Own”. Regardless of who you are and where your interests lie, the festival has something for you. Here are four routes to take. Festival passes cost $25, unless otherwise stated for separately ticketed events like workshops, lectures and performances.
For your inner feminist
L-R: Brittany Cavallaro, Roxane Gay, Amanda Chong
Feminism takes center stage at the Singapore Writers Festival at a key moment in the empowerment of women around the world.
If you’ve ever felt like there isn’t quite a female equivalent of a “bromance” and want to discuss ways to change that, then The Power of Female Friendships on Nov 3, featuring Brittany Cavallaro, is the lecture for you.
Next, join the conversation at the Festival Debate on Nov 6 as the likes of Petrina Kow, Oniatta Effendi and Amanda Chong consider the motion: “This house believes that men are ruining feminism”.
Finally, head to Roxane Gay: Understanding Identity through Pop Culture on Nov 10, where the “bad feminist” will share how pop culture can help us figure ourselves out at a complicated time for culture and society. Tickets cost $25.
For the crime and horror lover
L-R: Neil Humphreys, Ng Yi-Sheng, Ovidia Yu
There are few things more immersive than playing detective in a well-crafted murder mystery. And who doesn’t love a good scare? If you like the sound of that, then the festival has the perfect line-up.
At the delightfully morbid Good Riddance! on Nov 2, you’ll learn the ideal way to kill off a character from Brittany Cavallaro (the author behind the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes novel series), Malaysian novelist Tunku Halim and Neil Humphreys, a familiar name in the Singapore literary scene.
Continue your exploration of the macabre later on Nov 2 at It was a Dark and Stormy Night, where Caryl Lewis, Alice Clark-Platts and Ovidia Yu will discuss the cliches and tropes of crime writing (and whether they love and/or hate them), from unreliable narrators to stereotypical characters and well-worn plot devices.
The next day, on Nov 3, delve into the psychology of horror with Tunku Halim, SJ Huang and Ng Yi-Sheng at Language of the Paranormal, where the trio will try to identify just what it is about being frightened that keeps us coming back for more.
For the music lover
Tim De Cotta
As Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize would suggest, music can be a powerful literary medium, so programs covering music are right at home at the Singapore Writers Festival.
Whether you’re more Carole King or Lennon-McCartney, you’ll discover your own songwriting voice at Songwriting 101 on Nov 3. Led by Singapore’s own Tim De Cotta — songwriter, vocalist, bassist and producer — you’ll also learn the finer points of setting your words to music. Tickets cost $10.
Happening in the evening on Nov 3, traditional and contemporary Malay poetry will clash at Perang Spontan: A Dikir Barat X Rap Battle, as talented rappers and dikir barat performers face off against each other in a gelanggang (or free-style) format. Tickets cost $30.
Have you noticed how everything ’80s is cool again? Get to the bottom of this nostalgia and the creative opportunities it offers at You Spin Me Right Round on Nov 10, featuring Claudia Dey, Yeow Kai Chai and Lawrence Ypil.
For the socially conscious
If you’re woke and you want your voice to be heard — or want to play a part in helping others have their voices heard — the festival has programs that will aid you on your quest.
At The ‘d’ Monologues: A Lecture-Performance by Kaite O’Reilly on Nov 2, you’ll watch as O’Reilly, a disability activist, challenges the preconceived notions about people with disabilities alongside Daniel Bawthan (better known as Wheelsmith) and Grace Lee-Khoo. Tickets cost $15.
Next, Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James will set the stage for the rest of the festival proceedings at the Festival Prologue on Nov 3. The Jamaican author of books like A Brief History of Seven Killings and Black Leopard, Red Wolf will reflect on how language and stories empower diversity and representation. Tickets cost $30.
Later in the afternoon on Nov 3, Sharon Bala, Chris Riddell and Huzir Sulaiman will discuss how our use of language can determine how refugees and asylum seekers are viewed. At Language and the Refugee Crisis, you’ll ponder about how feelings for fictional characters can be transferred to their very real counterparts.
Complete your experience at Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) on Nov 9. Here, Canadian writer Kamal Al-Solaylee will share insights on colourism, multiculturalism and immigration gleaned from his years of research and journalism work around the world. Tickets are available for $20.
For more information and to book your tickets, head to the Singapore Writers Festival website.