Mentor Access Project nurtures emerging talent in new genres


Mentor Access Project nurtures emerging talent in new genres:


 Graphic Novels and Creative Non-Fiction


Open call for registration for the 8th edition starts now


The eighth edition of the Mentor Access Project (MAP), which will commence in March 2011, is now open for applications till 31 Dec 2010.  Aspiring writers can apply for mentorship under two new genres: graphic novels as well as creative non-fiction which include travel writing, art criticism and personal essays.


The National Arts Council (NAC), the MAP organiser since 2000, has appointed The Arts House as its new coordinator. Originally an 18-month mentorship programme, MAP has been condensed to 12 months to raise intensity and rigour. Its mission remains the same: to ensure the sustained development of emerging writers writing in the four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil – by providing them with mentorship opportunities and ongoing critical feedback.


MAP provides emerging literary talents with a supporting skills development framework. Participants can look forward to mentorship opportunities with established writers as well as chances to network within the literary community. Participants will also be equipped with industry knowledge that ranges from the business aspects to presentation skills.


Promising original works generated by MAP participants during the course of the programme will be considered for book publication, under the New Book Initiative, in conjunction with NAC’s Publishing and Translation Grant. This is on top of enjoying publishing opportunities in an online literary journal to be produced by MAP at the end of the mentorship period.


Khor Kok Wah, NAC’s deputy chief executive officer, said, “NAC is committed to supporting and nurturing talent across a wide spectrum of literary genres from poetry, prose to creative non-fiction, comics and children’s literature. MAP gives promising writers across different genres the valuable opportunity to be mentored by established writers and the resources to support their writing process during the duration of MAP.”


Playwright Edgar Liao, who was mentored by Robert Yeo as part of the 2007 MAP intake, was a recent winner of the Theatre Idols competition. His winning play, Ma Goes Home, was staged by Action Theatre in October 2010.


“Dr Yeo was extremely encouraging and patient, which is a boon for young writers who tend to be insecure and lack confidence in their work. It was very encouraging and enlightening to receive the endorsement as well as the critiques of an established writer,” Liao said.


“I benefited not only from his experience and knowledge, but also his networks. He introduced me to Mr Ekachai Uekrongtham, the founder-director of Action Theatre, and that paved the way for my subsequent participation in some of the theatre company’s productions, culminating in my very first staged play, Ma Goes Home.”


On why he thinks MAP is relevant and important in its mission to nurture aspiring writers, Liao explained, “It is one of the few platforms that provides for the continuing education and encouragement of our young writers. Singapore will be a duller place without a next generation of Singaporean writers, who are the most suited to write in Singaporean idioms and voices, and the best placed to give expression to Singaporean images and tropes. MAP is not just any developmental programme – it is warmly unique in the sense that it features one generation of Singapore writers imparting their experiences, skills and values to another.” 


The past intakes of MAP have enjoyed workshops and master classes with authors such as British novelist Linda Grant, who was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize; Chinese-American poet, Marilyn Chin; Singapore-born Canadian novelist/poet, Lydia Kwa; and award-winning Singapore playwright, Desmond Sim. The mentors for the 2009 intake included well-known Singapore writers, poets and playwrights like Meira Chand, Anuar Othman, Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Felix Cheong, Alvin Pang, Cyril Wong and Robert Yeo.


On the mentorship process, Dave Chua, who was a prose mentor for the 2008 and 2009 intakes, said, “It was a learning experience for both sides. I tried to get the participants that I mentored to try new angles and approaches.”


He was also positive to the news that new genres are being added to MAP, “Graphic novels are increasingly visible in bookstores and the New York Times now has a bestseller chart for them. I think creative non-fiction is a good idea as well.”


Working with The Arts House, published poet and Singapore Literature Prize 2006 winner Yong Shu Hoong will manage MAP

Applications are open to Singaporean citizens or permanent residents, aged 18 years and above. Poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, graphic novel or drama writing can be in any of the four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. The deadline for application is 31 Dec 2010 and application forms can be downloaded from


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