High time for a deep dive
Who are we, and what does it mean to inhabit the world we live in? In this exciting age of innovation, travel and all things digital, the ‘world’ becomes more than just a physical entity. From our imaginations to virtual reality and the various cultures that form not just our world but our identities, this year’s Singapore Writers Festival looks to explore the different nuances of the Chinese character, 界 (jiè), or ‘world’. One of Asia’s premier literary events, the festival will host more than 390 authors, speakers and artists from around the world from 2-11 November this year, all of whom will be showcasing what this year’s theme means to them. Think exciting dialogues, film screenings, music and theatrical performances, an immersive VR experience and meet-the-author sessions – here are 6 events we’re especially looking forward to.
From L-R: Minh Bui Jones ©Jim Mizerski, Senthuran Varatharajah and Nina McConigley
Saturday, 3rd November, 11.00-12.30pm, Festival Pass Event, The Arts House, Chamber
What do panel members Senthuran Varatharajah, Minh Bui Jones and Nina McConigley have in common? They are all migrants; yet, that does not mean their stories are the same. Senthuran fled from Sri Lanka to Germany in the 1980s, Minh Bui escaped from Vietnam to Australia as a boat refugee and Nina, who was born in Singapore, moved to Wyoming when she was just 10 months old. Their unique experiences have led them to become advocates, and this panel will discuss the need for diverse representation for the migrants who have been unfairly profiled as the world grapples with social unrest and migrant influx.
From L-R: Charlene Shepherdson, Vanessa Fernandez and Akeem Jahat
Saturday, 3rd November, 8-9.30pm, $15, The Arts House, Chamber
Hip-hop is more than just cash money and bling – as former US President Barack Obama once said, “the thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart, it’s insightful. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable.” In this unique event where melody and lyrics come together to form powerful statements that are more than just the sum of their parts, writers, musicians and performance poets will take to the stage to discuss issues like integration, empathy and how intercultural dialogue is pre-eminent in our current age of discord. Their time in the spotlight will also help shine a light on the kindred spirit that links poetry, rap and hip-hop while wrestling with the concerns of our modern era. These performances will feature William Beale, Fatima Moumouni, Subhas Nair, Deborah Emmanuel, Jesse Oliver, Akeem Jahat, Vanessa Fernandez, Paul Kaller and Pooja Nansi.
Friday, 9th November, 8-9.30pm, $10, The Arts House, Play Den
How do stories shape our identities? On this special night, performance poets Charlene Shepherdson and Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips explore the diverse and colourful histories that influence their roles as Singaporean Eurasians, granddaughters, and women. This interdisciplinary performance will see the fusion of two art forms – original poetry and actual weaving – inspired by the stories told across generations that speak volumes on the intricate and interlaced connections of the human DNA, and how they make us who we are today.
Saturday,10th November, 12.30-1.30pm, $20, The Arts House, Chamber
This is a question that has been on everyone’s mind since the explosion of the digital age: are we actually becoming slaves to the algorithms of the Internet? Have we unknowingly become puppets, our strings pulled by the surreptitious machinations of invisible powers? In this thought-provoking lecture, German author and media studies professor Miriam Meckel discusses the edge that humanity is teetering upon: as our mental processes becomes calculable, our potential is maximised – but for better and for worse? How, then, do we maintain independence over our own brains, as a creative, sacred space that allows us refuge? How, then, do we remain intrinsically human in the age of machines?
From L-R: Annaliza Bakri, Amanda Chong ©Ejun Low and Sarah Churchwell
Saturday,10th November, 8.30-9.30pm, Festival Pass Event, The Arts House, Chamber
If there was one hashtag that dominated 2018, it would definitely be #metoo. What started as a movement to encourage women mainly in Hollywood to speak out against injustice has now spread to other aspects of modern life, from the corporate world to literary publishing and to politics. Yet, there remains a glass ceiling in terms of pay, recognition and representation. This panel discussion hosted by Anita Kapoor will feature three female authors – Sarah Churchwell, Amanda Chong and Annaliza Bakri – who will talk about how the movement has impacted society, and what we need to do next to level the playing field.
Sunday,11th November, 3-4pm, $20, Victoria Theatre
Water giveth and water taketh away; water is crucial to our survival, but it is ironically also linked to some of the most visible and tangible signs of climate disruption. Floods, droughts, torrential downpours, tsunamis and rising sea levels have devastated the planet for centuries, and the wrath of mother nature will not stop if we stand idly by. In this lecture hosted by acclaimed journalist-author Jeff Goodell, he will share the stories told to him by scientists and climate change leaders as he investigated first-hand how climate change and rising sea levels are affecting all of us. This discussion will paint a vivid picture of the water world we might have to live in, and allow you to discover a future that will require what he calls “adaptable living”.
The 10-day festival will also host plenty of other events that you should definitely check out, like The Ghost in Your Head, a late-night showcase where you’ll get to speak with authors from the past and Rhapsody in Verse, a one-of-a-kind concert showcasing the beauty of Chinese lyricism set to the melodic backdrop of ensembles, choirs and the piano. You’ll also get to enjoy film screenings of award-winning and acclaimed titles like T2 Trainspotting, I Am Not Madame Bovary and Living In Chains: Beyond Taboos.
Get your Festival Passes and tickets to SWF Stage, SWF Class and SWF Beyond via SISTIC.