30 October to 8 November 2015


SINGAPORE, 22 September 2015 – New productions, partnerships and perspectives – that is what the 18th edition of the Singapore Writers Festival promises as it returns to the Civic District (Empress Place area). It aims to reach out to a wider, more diverse audience with more than 300 events, including a strong series of cross-genre, intercultural events.


Curated around the theme “Island of Dreams”, this year’s Festival will feature programmes that invite audiences to celebrate and reflect on our hopes and aspirations. Being launched at the Festival this year is a range of publications to celebrate Singapore’s milestone 50th anniversary, exploring not only Singapore’s development in the last 50 years but also the dreams of our nation. These include the National Arts Council-commissioned Singathology, edited by Gwee Li Sui, which showcases 50 new works by past recipients of the Cultural Medallion and the Young Artist Awards.


Also, journalist Toh Lam Huat, and writers, Ng Wai Choi and Tong Noong Chin, will share in Mandarin on how they took the leap forward with pioneering approaches to writing and editing at the festival’s Literary Pioneer Series: Editorial Strategies and Modernism in Wenlin.


Commenting on the theme and programming, Mr Yeow Kai Chai, Festival Director, shares, “The Singapore Writers Festival has always been a space where lively exchanges of ideas take place, and in this edition, we look forward to inviting audiences from all walks of life to look within and share the dreams they have for themselves and for the society. As the Festival continues to evolve, we are excited to introduce a series of new collaborations and programmes, and hope to create opportunities of varied experiences for our festivalgoers this year.”






  • The launch of five festival tracks – SWF Stage, SWF3, SWF POP, SWF Class and SWF Beyond – which cater to audiences with varying interests, from fiction and poetry to song-writing and column-writing.
  • The first-ever overnight immersive experience with drama, poetry, song-writing and prose called What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem, curated by Checkpoint Theatre’s Huzir Sulaiman.
  • The first-ever collaboration between SWF and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay called Dimensions and Demons, featuring Singapore writers and musicians working on original compositions.
  • The launch of a South-east Asia focus as the festival brands itself as the gateway to the region.
  • New tie-ups with first-time partners (National Gallery Singapore, Asian Civilisation Museum, Select Centre, UnThinkTank, India Heritage Centre, NTU Division of Chinese, Frankfurt Book Fair) etc.






The Festival’s refreshed format comprises five festival tracks that will guide festival-goers through the two-week event. Audiences will be treated to a slew of experiential programmes inspired by the written word and beyond – from interactive theatre and musical shows to spoken-word events and film screenings. Each of the events is broadly categorised under the following:

  • SWF Stage consists of SWF Lectures, ticketed performances & the ever-popular Closing Debate Performers/Writers include: A double-bill gig featuring In Each Hand a Cutlass and I am David Sparkle; and a Singapore lecture on Imagining Singapore…featuring Ho Kwon Ping, Bertha Henson and Pooja Nansi.
  • SWF Class includes workshops and master-classes for budding writers as well as professionals, including a free workshop by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim for the pioneer generation. Writers include: Yap Seow Choong, Roger Jenkins, Justin Cronin, Susan Orlean
  • SWF Beyond transcends language, genre and media - Music, Films, Translations Writers include: Sezairi Sezali, Joel Tan (Gentle Bones), Desmond Kon, Alfian Sa’at, Eric Tinsay Valles, Divya Victor, Gwee Li Sui, Jerrold Yam and Han Lao Da.
  • SWF3 comprises family-friendly programmes for the little ones, adolescents, parents and guardians. Writers include: Ah Guo, Adeline Foo, Emily Lim, Kenneth Quek, Chris Haughton
  • SWF POP features fun and free pop-ups that will surprise and entertain you on the festival grounds. Performers include: The Lorong Boys, Wobology, Take Two, HubbaBubbas.






This year’s line-up represents a wide range of interests and specialties. Poetry lovers can look forward to trailblazers such as: Canada’s premier avant-garde poet, Christian Bök, who will launch The Xenotext Experiment, a decade-long project that involves injecting poems into the genome of a living organism which replicates itself in outer space; and Taiwan’s Chen Li, regarded as one of the most innovative and exciting voices in Chinese writing today. Joining them too is British playwright, novelist, and poet Deborah Levy who is a Man Booker Prize nominee; India’s Samanth Subramaniam, who wrote The Divided Island, a chronicling of his travels in Sri Lanka after the civil war ended; Na Muthukumar, a two-time National award-winning Tamil poet who also writes theme songs for India’s Tamil film industry; and Jeyamohan, one of the most influential contemporary, Tamil and Malayalam writer and literary critic.


Look out too for the first conversation between two Chinese writers respected by bicultural intelligentsia: Hong Kong’s political columnist-broadcaster Chip Tsao and Chinese intellectual Xu Zhiyuan. For those with an interest in personal finance or the volatile financial economy, former Financial Times columnist Heather McGregor, better known as Mrs Moneypenny, will also be ready to share her knowledge.


The Festival will also feature political philosopher and professor from Harvard University Michael Sandel; GQ UK magazine editor-memoirist Dylan Jones; and feminist and activist Laura Bates.


Music lovers will also be enchanted by New Zealand’s Hollie Fullbrook from the acclaimed band Tiny Ruins, whose latest album, Brightly Painted One, won Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards in November 2014.


Other interesting speakers include graphic novelists and comic artists like Jean-Marc-Rochette, the illustration artist of Snowpiercer, which was made into a film; Julian ‘Lefty’ Kam, Malaysian comic artist; and Ma Daishu, Chinese illustrator and graphic novelist.






Country Focus: Indonesia
As a gateway to the region, the SWF Country Focus is a platform that links cultures and aims to bring greater awareness to the literary scenes of our neighbouring countries, showcasing the diverse tapestry of Southeast Asian cultures and literature.


Working together with The Arts House, a partner of SWF, the Festival this year will shine a spotlight on Indonesia as the festival’s country focus. Look forward to exploring Indonesia’s long traditions of the word– recited to the background of theatre and movements, sung against rich tonal texture and spoken in different tongues.  Dreams are after all facets of reality. Featured authors include poet Goenawan Mohamad, and other Indonesia writers such as Zen Hae, Ayu Utami and multi-disciplinary activities that includes musical performances by Ubiet and Kroncong Tenggara, and a Batik Painting demonstration by Sujak Rahman.


Other South-east Asian writers include the Malaysian father-and-son pairing – A Samad Said and Az Samad; Thailand’s SP Somtow; and Myay Hmone Lwin from Myanmar.






Ticketing details and updates are available on the Festival website at, and the SWF Facebook page at Festival Passes and tickets are available via SISTIC at and at


 Early bird sales begin on 25 September 2015 and will end on 11 October 2015.




For more information, please read on:

  • ANNEX A – Singapore Writers Festival 2015 Participating Writers/Artists
  • ANNEX B – Singapore Writers Festival 2015 Five Festival Tracks Write-up
  • ANNEX C – Singapore Writers Festival 2015 Fact Sheet – Ticketing Information