Literature is valuable as a medium of self-expression, a canvas for our imagination and a record of a community’s life to be passed down the generations. Whether through the written or spoken word, it captures our stories, experiences, aspirations as Singaporeans. Literature across our four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil also promote a greater understanding of our diverse heritage and cultures, allowing us to connect through shared stories.
A Dynamic Literary Arts Ecosystem
Our scene is vibrant with key organisations such as the Singapore Book Council and Sing Lit Station that promote literary arts and creative writing, as well as associations that champion the needs of various writing communities. Groups and individuals also make up the lively literary scene – writers, graphic novelists, translators, editors, illustrators, publishers, independent presses, distributors, retailers, bookstores, libraries, online literary journals, teachers, students, and readers. Prestigious competitions are held regularly for writers to showcase their works including the Anugerah Persuratan, the Golden Point Award and the Singapore Literature Prize to name a few. Singaporeans and literary enthusiasts also look forward to the annual Singapore Writers Festival that presents the world’s major literary talents while shining a spotlight on homegrown and Southeast Asian creative talents, as well as Poetry Festival Singapore which specifically promotes interest in poetry in our four official languages.
Supporting Literary Excellence
The National Arts Council (NAC) supports literary arts practitioners at different stages of their development through funding and capability development programmes such as writing mentorships and local and international residencies. Through creative writing residency partnerships and manuscript critiques, writers can hone their craft, professionalise and produce quality content and experiences that Singaporeans can relate to and are proud of. NAC also partners on capability development with organisations such as the Singapore Book Council (for Beyond Words) and Nanyang Technological University (for the Asia Creative Writing Programme).
Increasing Appreciation for Singapore Literature
Over the years, our engagement efforts to cultivate interest and nurture a love for literature have become more targeted. NAC works with the literary centre The Arts House and National Library Board to cater to a wide range of readers’ interest as well as with the Ministry of Education to encourage early exposure and a sustained interest in literature through the curriculum. At the same time, Words Go Round reaches out directly to schools and educators to provide access to quality literary arts programmes in schools.
Literary arts draw people together, bridge differences and build connections in the community. An appreciation for original and translated works of historical and social significance across languages from Singapore and within the region, can foster cross-cultural understanding and allow us to develop a confident cultural identity.