SDS 3.25 – Trogdor (aka The Singapore Writers Festival affair)

Jo and I got invited to the opening of the Singapore Writers Festival. Since it was evening and we could make it, well, we decided to go! As we approached the tent, we glimpsed Dave Chua of Gone Case but ALAS, he disappeared as we entered for that evening was also the opening of an exhibition by Sonny Liew elsewhere which I didn’t know and also the launch of the Gone Case 2, the graphic novel.

NO MATTER, so we bust into the tent like the writers we are.

Which is to say we pushed opened the doors and pretty much walked in after saying our names at the sign in area.

In the corner of the festival pavillion (that part is free for anyone to come) was an exhibit on Kuo Pao Kun’s lifetime achievements while the middle-ish part had black and white leather benches in front of a mini stage. The perimeter of the whole pavillion was pretty much a bookshop so there were shelves of local and non-local books. As usual, it is le literary people who are there. We recognized faces but we are shy girls not really so we just decided to check out the spread.

We are but PEASANTS for out of the whole affair, we liked the vegetables, salad and potatoes best. POTATOES AND VEGETABLES. Such simple tastes we have! The other dishes were too sweet for us even if it was sea perch soup, fish and Jo tried the chicken. It’s… sweet which was kinda weird. NO MATTER, we scoped out the people there while we stood around with our plates.

For those who didn’t know, there was a dresscode in the invitation to SWF. It was “literary chic”. There had been a lot of questions on Twitter by others who had this invite too. I decided that “literary chic” meant to dress up like a writer but not a hobo writer. It worked and as you can see from the pictures, everyone pretty much just wore whatever the heck they wanted.

We saw the NAC people too! They were busy so we didn’t want to disturb the people so we just shovelled more potatoes and enjoyed the air con there. So yes. We just spent the opening eating potatoes and vegetables before we decided to scram since well, everyone had their own person to mingle or speak literary chic and it was getting late for us. It was a preview night after all and there would be panels and such the next day.

I purchase my festival pass via Sistic when it had the early bird special so it just cost me $11 then. The thing is that you were supposed to exchange it at the festival pavillion to get your swanky proper pass! A lot of people were confused about this bit and eh, this was the first time the Singapore Writers Festival is being charged. Hopefully the next one would be less tedious.

For one thing, the ticketed events like workshops and stuff, you needed to buy via Sistic first since it was separate from the festival pass. And the festival pass was for everything else. Mostly, people were also confused on where to exchange your Sistic festival pass into the red plastic one since it wasn’t really obvious at the counter of the festival pavillion (it was said to be Info counter and was sharing with the bookstore’s cashier).

As Jo and I waited (we went to the fest the next day, so imagine a time lapse here instead of us camping in the festival) for the launch of Ceriph’s issue 4, we found this! Bubble G.U.M and Happiness at the End of the World was available! So was an Irish Tour of Singapore which you could buy it all at Two Trees too!

Plus, it amused me that Low Kay Hwa’s book that I bought a week or so before the fest was there since I was corresponding to him currently. That meant that they didn’t just stock the literary stuff at the festival bookstore.

Also, we found a book that was going to be launched the following week there. I had to buy it because the first line was:

Tara first met him at the Singapore Arts Festival in Moscow.

You have no idea how many people picked up that book there, stared at that line, looked around and back to it again. Worry not. I will read out parts of the book and reveal to you what it is since it is queued in my bunch of books to be reviewed.

Meanwhile, it was time for the launch for Ceriph issue 4. This issue is divided into different paper types and if you want to hear her reading, just click the video below since I would rather let her explain it herself!

One of my favourite stories in this issue is titled $trategic KPI + %Synergy% = Love by Mary-Jane Leo. I refuse to believe the ending. I believe that it was AMBIGUOUS, SINCE it was just merely a squashing. MERELY. It’s just a squash. You can get this issue and the previous ones at Kinokuniya, Books Actually or just check their website on where to get it.

After that, we went to the panel on Adoring Fans and Stalkers: Relating to my Readers, featuring Randy Taguchi and Fira Basuki. It was a super engaging and fun session. Very informative too on what fans they got and how they related to them or handled the really extreme ones. This was in the transaction pavillion which is to the left of the festival pavillion and needed the pass.

Before this session though, Jo did attend another panel and considering the layout of the tent, there was a distracting spider involved? The place is a bit dark too.

After that fan panel, we left to eat prata since there was quite a bit of prata talk somehow. Meanwhile, Vertical Submarine were responsible for these. Hahah, I always like Vertical Submarine stuff. It’s a mysterious case and another is called the UnderWriter’s Table. Yes, the book there says “How to write a blank cheque”.

Time lapse to the next weekend! It was getting quieter and the white board was getting more insane with art. You could get free fans too. Hah! Fans. I don’t think the bears at the info counter were for sale but they had mini versions of the festival’s programme. Anyway, it was a super hot day and I headed into the festival pavillion since the session I wanted to go was an hour away.

I must say that it was really quiet. There was also half hour readings and besides me and the bookstore staff and some of the NAC people, there wasn’t much visitors at the pavillion (unless they were buying books). I found out from my friend (not Jo. Check out the 1st prize winner for the Malay short story for Golden Point award, that is him) that the panel he was interested in was pretty quiet too, like around 5 or so people including him and the writer.

I think most of us attributed it to the fact of the festival being spread out in 3 places instead of The Arts House in which it made everything feel livelier. Plus, I didn’t know there was such thing as half hour readings at the pavillion. So sad for authors being slotted in the timings then.

Meanwhile, I was going to Is Facebook killing the Blog? Featuring: Pat Law, Gilbert Koh, Yu-Mei Balasingamchow at The Salon of the National Museum before I met my friend to find all this out. This panel was talking about finding your voice and write what you want to. Plus, more insight on how the panelists blog or intergrate facebook by linking to their blogs.

Their take away point was that if you are a serious writer who wants to write articles etc, choose a blog. Facebook is too spammy and your words might disappear if FB keeps changing. At least you will have an archive somewhere if you have your own blog.

The reason I met my friend cause HOHOHOHOHOH, I got a ticket to Joe Haldeman’s science fiction workshop. He had bought his before the start of the festival and I got mine in the last minute cause another friend of mine couldn’t make it and so I bought it off from her.

Heh, heh, heh.

As we bought headed to SMU, there was a performances, Words in Motion by breakdancing crews and other dancers. The whole thing was organized by Soul Theory Studios and there you can see Sheik Haikal being the emcee for it all. He was certainly entertaining for what brief time I was there.

And the last ticketed event for the evening was Building Other Worlds – The Fundamentals of Writing Science Fiction Featuring: Joe Haldeman. Mostly we got to listen stories from him, how he wrote his books and I did get to learn the difference of the types of science fiction written.

Not really sure how to explain it but okay, I did get to learn quite a bit and that it is tough to write science fiction nowadays.

It was certainly a sold out workshop and it was overrun a little bit since we wanted to listen to him more.

Lastly, my friend and I managed to listen to the LAST argument for the  Closing Debate: This House Would Trade English for Singlish at the transaction pavillion.

The well-acclaimed SWF Closing Debate is back! This time, the two teams of mystery speakers will debate on the motion: “This House would trade English for Singlish.” Singlish, Singapore’s colloquial English, has always provoked much controversy in a country torn between its commitment to a global and a national identity. Now who will make the most kilat (polished) argument for or against it? Who will conversely kena whack jialat-jialat (get trounced) for talking too much rubbish? Hopefully, all of them! Join us for a session of side-splitting, nose-bloodied, rowdy fun that will bring this festival to its irreverent close!

Members of the public could comment and well… WOW.

Singlish versus English debate

Although I’m sure there were official videographers, I know that footage won’t be used in… official videos or anything like that. No point for me to put up a video of the last arguments since it was really THAT packed. The audio’s good enough for you to listen.

Choice quote from the English camp:

In a nutshell the Singaporean identiy is about the acquisition of personal material wealth.Thank goodness our ministers are not like that.

There’s more leading to that but you got to listen to it, hahahaha.

Choice quote from the Singlish camp:

These days ah, we are told to speak English cause they are powerful international language, correct? But then ah, government also tell you nowadays you must speak Chinese because Chinese now very powerful. Right? I can guarantee ten years time they tell you to speak some Indian language because India also powerful. But you think ah, ok? English, Chinese, Indian, when put together Singlish already what.Correct? We are already in the future!

And that’s the end of the SWF. It was judged by how loud you clapped and thus both won. Hahahah, that kind of ending. In any case, that was great. In summary, SWF was fun. The venue needs to be worked out a little more since a lot of people have commented on not being able to switch rooms if they’re not interested in the panel and the ticketing needs to be a bit more clearly. That and the scheduling of panels. There was quite a lot of clashes with hot topic panels at the same time.

We’ll see how it is next year. For now, I’m going to keep my pass since it’s the first pass ever for a paid SWF here. COLLECTOR’S ITEM GET!

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Well, this is seriously Sarah and that's all you need to know for now.

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