Lit Up Singapore
2010: Emerging Writers and Performers Festival:
Singapore lit up with shining letters
Chris Moony Singh
The Lit Up 2010, Emerging writers and Performers Festival was held in
Singapore from July 9 to July 18 with the participation of foreign as
well as local writers and performers. Among the galaxy of visiting
literati who conducted sessions during the festival were Dr. Brenda
Flanagan, a Professor at Davidson College, USA; Mike Ladd, founder
producer and presenter of Australia's ABC Radio National's Saturday
afternoon poetry program Poetica; Joel M. Toledo, a poet and academic
from The Philippines; Ankur Betageri, a bilingual Bangalore writer and
poet based in New Delhi, and also the Assistant Editor of the literary
journal, Indian Literature Dr. Leslie O'Dell, a professor of theatre and
film at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada, Arianna Pozzuoli, a
winner of first Poetry Slam in 2006; Thato Ntshabele and Andrew Mwini,
the dynamic poetic duo from Africa; Sunil Govinnage, bi-lingual Sri
Lankan-Australian poet and Perth-based Prof. Dennis Haskell, the Chair
of the Literature Board of the Australia Council.
Student share a happy moment during school performance
The festival which spread over a week was organised by The Singapore
Writers Centre headed by Chris Moony Singh and Savinder Kaur who was the
director of the festival. Apart from the extensive school visits where
diverse workshops, panel discussions, performance, readings were
conducted, the evening events were held at Creative Cube of Lasalle
College of the Arts, a top private school of arts in Singapore. The
National Arts Council of Singapore and US Embassy in Singapore were also
sponsored the festival.
The LitUp 2010 Festival commenced in 2009 during the outbreak of bird
flu. Despite the flu, the festival was a success and this year, the
festival was represented by diverse of literati from equally diverse
genres. The evening programmes were highly successful and the array of
events included a series of open microphone readings, individual
readings of writers, Joint readings, Group Performances particularly the
women writers' performance. The women writers' performance was
facilitated by Agnes Meadows. Agnes, an English poet actively took part
in the programme along with five young women Singaporean poets.
Festival equally focused on page poetry as well as stage poetry. A
highlight of the festival was Singapore National Poetry Slam event and
the winner which was won by Stephaney Chan. A part of her award prize
included a free air ticket to represent Singapore in the Indian Ocean
Slam Event in Union island. Other students focused events include
National Schools' Literature Festival with the participation of fifteen
The one day programme included performance, drama performance and
literary debating. Another tie up programme of the festival was that
which was conducted for four hundred gifted students with the
collaboration of the Gifted Branch of Singaporean Ministry of Education.
The students had the benefit of participating in programme conducted
by guest facilitators.
The panel discussions on the theme of black pacific expression, the
influence of African and American on Asian popular culture through
literature and Southern Hemisphere Skype Poetry Slam competition between
four poets from Singapore and four poets from Melbourne in Australia.
The events were conducted live through Skype.
One of the important events was the first ever book launch by the Red
Wheelbarrow publishers in Singapore. The regional publishing house has
its headquarters in Singapore and Australia with developing regional
network of distribution. Chai Travel Poems by emerging Singaporean
writer Marc Daniel Nair is a poetic journey into the routes of the poet
re-discovering his own Asia.
Extensive school visits
During a school session
One of the prominent features of the Lit Up 2010 was the extensive
school visits. It is noteworthy that The Singapore Writers Centre and
literati which organised the festival have understood the value of
propagating literature among students in an extremely innovative manner.
During the school visits, workshops, panel discussions, performance and
forums were conducted for both students and teachers. Teachers' training
is an important aspect of school visits where the festival team
‘imported’ practical as well as theoretical knowledge through
interactive forums and performances.
The activities centred on the areas of poetry, Fiction Writing,
Acting development, theatre skills and performance focusing on
Shakespearean Studies. What was obvious from the workshops and numerous
activities conducted in schools was that Singaporean students often
noted for quiet nature, were, in fact, quite robust when they were given
a chance to come out with their creativity. A striking characteristic
was that the students were extremely interested in taking part in the
activities and all the participants thoroughly enjoyed the events.
Perhaps, the first lessons that students learn intuitively from the
events is that the poetry is not something which is boring and aimed at
passing examinations. It is obvious that events in addition to teaching
literature in an innovative manner impart life skills such as building
confidence in students, eliminating stage fright and improve students'
Poetry Slam is one of the main techniques used in the festival.
Broadly speaking, the poetry slam is a competition. In the Slam, poets
read or recite original works and sometimes works of others. Individual
poet performance is judged by a panel of selected judges on numerical
scale. Originally, poetry slam is highly politicised and different
issues including political, economic and racial issues. It is a rare
technique in which sporting platform is being used for reciting poetry.
However, poetry slam is different to popular reading of poetry.
The poets are judged not only on the content of their work but also
on the manner of delivery. In Singapore, poet Christ Moony Singh who is
the driving force behind the Singapore Writers Centre has pioneered the
Apart from its impressive array of events, LitUp 2010 was noted for
its innovative applications of literature against the backdrop of
technologically driven society of Singapore. Some of the techniques such
as Poetry Slam provide a prototype formula which can be adapted to
revive interest particularly among students in the literature, thus
making truly a literature generation.
Sunil Govinnage, a keen observer of Singapore's literary scene for
over a decade and a close associate of Singapore writers and poets said:
LitUp 2010 Singapore is not a significant literary event but an
investment of future poets, writers and dramatist to emerge from