First-time offerings include translation exercise for upper secondary/JC, a full-day literary Open House, and the first-ever Newspaper Blackout Poetry Contest


 Singapore, 17 February 2015 – The fifth instalment of Words Go Round (WGR) is back and promises a series of “first’s”, with  bigger, more diverse range of programmes and a mix of emerging writers and established authors such as UK’s National Geographic director/ cameraman Matt Dickinson, Malaysia’s best-selling young-adult writer Ain Maisarah, as well as Singapore’s beloved Catherine Lim. To be held from 2 to 14 March 2015, this is the first pre-Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) event of 2015, which aims to bring literature closer to a new generation of budding writers, and to cultivate a stronger readership and interest among the young for words.




2          In 2014, WGR has reached out to more than 11,000 students and teachers across pre-primary and secondary schools and junior colleges, an increase from the 7,000 in 2013. Leveraging on the steady support of followers garnered over the years, WGR aims to reach 80 schools this year.


3          “WGR enables my students to get up close and personal with the writers and inspired them through their literary works in the classroom.  This programme has my students very enthused and has helped prepare them for their ‘O’ & ‘N’ level examinations,” affirms Mr Tang Chee Onn, Level Head for English Language and Literature, Dunearn Secondary School.


4          With offerings in Singapore’s four official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil – WGR features 55 literary programmes, up from 52 in the previous year. “It has been a great experience to be able to do programmes in both the Mother Tongue Tamil and English,’’ shares Indian storyteller and author Jeeva Raghunath Students can look forward to 49 Singapore and international speakers and authors – an increase from the 40 featured in 2014.


5          Mr Yeow Kai Chai, the newly-appointed Director of SWF, says: “Words Go Round is growing from strength to strength, and it plays a vital role in our mission to reach out to the young and inculcate a love for writing in them. The aim is to develop Singapore as a sophisticated reading and writing nation across all four languages. That’s why we value our school-outreach efforts and the hard work of teachers too.  We want to empower the latter too, by offering workshops while making it fun for their students, via such platforms as the first-ever Newspaper Blackout Poetry contest and performance poetry workshops. So get creative!”




6          This year, WGR is introducing new programmes to further excite students about the written and spoken word, and also deepen their love for mother tongue through its multi-lingual literary programmes. Some of the highlights this year include:


a. Open House goes full-day

 Targeting the aspiring writer in the classroom, the WGR Open House, to be held at The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane) on Saturday, 7 March from 9.30am to 5.30pm, will now be a full-day affair. It will feature a playwright (Huzir Sulaiman), a journalist (Carl Skadian), a graphic novelist (Troy Chin), and a film-maker (Lee Thean-jeen), among others. The Open House is priced at S$20 (includes a snack and lunch pack) and it is targeted at students from 15 to 18 years old. There’s no better way to stimulate creativity in our teens!


b. First-ever Newspaper Blackout Poetry Contest launched

Inspired by American poet-cartoonist Austin Kleon, WGR is thrilled to present the first Newspaper Blackout Poetry Contest with $6,000 worth of vouchers up for grabs. The ongoing contest challenges students to be creative with newspaper articles and create poems out of them. Participants will be required to black out the unwanted words and leave the unmarked words in the newspaper article to form a poem. The contest accepts entries in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.


There are three age categories for this contest - junior (7 to 11 years old), youth (12 to 15 years old) and senior (16 to 19 years old). The top three entries in each language category and age group will be selected by a panel of judges and uploaded online for public voting from 18 February to 14 March. Public votes will count for 50% of the final score while judges’ score will count for the other 50%. The winning entries will receive $300 Kinokuniya book vouchers. Merit prizes comprising $100 book vouchers will also be awarded, and four teachers with the most number of participating students will win a set of Livescribe pens and notebooks worth S$200 each.


c. Bridging languages, crossing genres

As translation and cultural quotient become global buzzwords, WGR offers its first-ever translation workshop for upper secondary to JC students. They will try their hands on translating a piece of Singapore Chinese fiction through a “consensus translation” exercise by a bilingual publisher (Tan Dan Feng). Malay programme highlights include a look at how a short story can translate into a film (Sanif Olek and Muhammed Salihin Sulaiman) while Tamil students will learn more about the Mahabharata and discover how characters can come alive with a session from a veteran playwright (Elavazhagan Murugan).




7          WGR continues to feature a range of creative school programmes across literary genres such as playwriting/creative writing, performance poetry, storytelling and print-to-screen. With more panel-style workshops this year, students can look forward to interacting with multiple authors and speakers in one session.


8          Launched last year, the hugely successful programming for pre-primary students (4-6 years old) will be enriched. This year, the little ones can look forward to interactive storytelling sessions by Singapore storyteller Kamini Ramachandran and Australian author Ken Spillman. Popular spoken-word performer Deborah Emmanuel will regale upper primary school children through a new programme, Telling my story through poetry. In addition, other foreign writers include Kosal Khiev (Cambodia), Romain Puértolas (France) and Matt Dickinson (UK) will conduct workshops and other programmes to appeal to youths.


9          For a full line-up of WGR programmes and to register, please visit


Appendix A: Public Programmes Available During Words Go Round 2015