Singapore Writers Festival 2012 returns with an exploration of Origins


Annual festival to showcase more than 180 writers across 200 events


Singapore, 27th August 2012 – The 15th edition of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns with a bumper crop of 200 literary offerings featuring 185 writers from Singapore and across the globe. Some of the international featured writers at the 2012 Festival include Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham of The Hours fame, semi-retired professional wrestler and author Mick Foley, Taiwanese literary figure and educator Huang Chun-ming and popular writer and illustrator Jimmy Liao. With a focus on the theme ‘Origins’, SWF looks set to transform the Bras Basah-Bugis District into a buzzing multi-lingual literary hub from 2 to 11 November.


Paul Tan, Festival Director, SWF, says, “The theme ‘Origins’ harks to a larger search for meaning – the origins of the word, of our stories and of course, our identities. It is an expansive idea which allows us to create programmes such as our spotlight on story-telling, biographies and historical fiction. We hope to see Singaporeans explore their own origins, whether genealogical, national or beyond – and also reflect on what constitutes originality. I am sure it will be the starting point of many thought provoking conversations which audiences have come to associate with the Festival.”


One of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, SWF welcomes three new features to its programme. The first is the Middle Eastern Focus. This will spotlight writers and issues in the Middle East, including a panel discussion on the Arab Spring and literature. Secondly, SWF Fringe, headed and curated by the Arts House, will explore “The Origins of Desire”. This series of night-time programmes will examine different facets of desire and manifestation of sexuality in books, films, performances and visual arts. Lastly, the Peranakan Museum will be a part of the Festival for the first time and will showcase the Peranakan connection to Singapore literature and writing, including a dramatised reading of Desmond Sim’s play, The Chair.


SWF 2012 Programme Line-Up

To reach out to a diverse and multi-lingual audience, the SWF 2012 programme line-up comprises Festival Pass, ticketed and free events:


Festival Pass Events

At only $15, the Festival Pass grants festival-goers access to more than 100 Festival events, including Panel Discussions, In Conversation With, Meet the Author, Ream to Reel events and SWF Fringe programmes.


Panel Discussions range from engaging dialogues on diaspora and dislocation with Krys Lee, Mohezin Tejani and Monique Truong to more topics such as whether one can be a feminist and still enjoy women’s magazines.


In Conversation With will feature two authors in an intimate discussion about a chosen topic. One of the highlight sessions will feature two of our region's leading writers and social commentators, Marina Mahathir and Catherine Lim, on what it means to use the written word to engage in civic society.


In Meet the Author sessions, writers such as Shin Kyung-Sook, winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, and pop culture icon Mick Foley take centrestage as they shed light on their creative process and inspirations.


Ream to Reel showcases how text is translated into film, with one of the key features being poet Hung Hung’s award-winning The Human Comedy (人间喜剧). Audiences will get a chance to meet and quiz the writer after the film screening.


A highlight not to be missed is the popular SWF Closing Debate where Singapore writers will take sides in a side-splitting, tongue-in-cheek exchange on the topical motion: Sinking Roots Here is Little More than Shopping and Eating.


Ticketed Events

The well-received SWF Lectures return with Michael Cunningham and Huang Chun-ming taking a deep dive into storytelling and how this has evolved.


Literary Meals and Cocktails give you the opportunity to wine and dine with your favourite Singaporean and international writers such as Catherine Lim, Pico Iyer, Linda Jaivin and Farish Noor.


Workshops and Master Classes provide budding writers unique access to established authors. Highlight sessions include a poetry workshop by critically-regarded Boey Kim Cheng, David Almond’s workshop for powerful Young Adult fiction, and creating graphic novels with acclaimed creator of Zahra’s Paradise, Khalil.


The SWF Publishing Symposium and Rights Fair, a two-day seminar on the world of publishing and writing, continues to be a key platform for the development and growth of the publishing and writing industry.


Free Events

The Festival District will play host to over 50 free programmes, including Little Lit! with interactive activities catered specifically to children and families, Brand New Books where new works are launched as well as numerous Off-the-Page events including acoustic rock and folk music performances. Festival-goers can also start their literary journey at the Festival with Coffee Reads at TCC or enjoy a reading with a pint of beer at SWITCH. Do check the official website and programme booklet for more details.


The SWF Literary Pioneer Showcase returns with a feature on Masuri S.N. (1927-2005), the father of modern Malay poetry in Singapore. Audiences are invited to learn more about his literary legacy through a tribute session, a launch of a chapbook commemorating his achievements and an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore.


As part of the pre-festival programmes, Passages, a unique community project curated by writer Yong Shu Hoong, returns for the second year. Singapore writers were matched with low income families to unearth personal stories that would have otherwise gone unheard. This year’s contributors include Ai Yu (Liew Kwee Lan), Mr Hassan Hasaa’ree Ali and Mr S. Anbarasan and the project will culminate in a reading and sharing session during the Festival which will tell of the strength of human spirit in times of hardship.


Another pre-festival initiative is Poetry of Song, a programme co-organised with Timbre Music Academy, which returns with a new twist and theme. Exploring the theme of “Roots”, the lyric writing competition is now open to not only English, but Chinese poems as well. Shortlisted poets will team up together with Timbre’s line-up of songwriters and composers to write melodies and craft songs, which will be performed during the Festival.


Ticketing details and updates are available on the Festival website at, or the SWF Facebook Page at


For more information, please read on:

ANNEX A - Ticketing Information / Facts and Figures

ANNEX B - Singapore Writers Festival 2012 Participating Writers

ANNEX C – Singapore Writers Festival 2012 Programme Line-up