The Singapore Writer’s Festival 2013 (themed Utopia//Dystopia) lasted from 1-10 November and packed many inspiring meet-the-author sessions, lined up insightful panel discussions engaging the audience and the writers together within beautiful venues from SMU green to the Singapore Arts Museum to the National Museum of Singapore. As the festival goers hung the festival passes across our necks or wherever else visible, held tightly onto our festival booklet and walked across the roads from venue to venue discussing the insights we’ve gained from the latest talk we attended; we created something important.
This important thing I feel we created was an experience for festival goers and writers that fueled imagination for the possibilities of literature in the future. This was my first year attending the festival, and already I felt immersed and in love over the course of the festival. Something like how I have a thing for craft and sewing, my sister has something special with writing and so I’m glad her love brought us here to this festival that turned out to be so much more.
As I hopped on from venue to venue, listening views fromnot just speakers but moderators and other festival goers, I savoured every moment of being in the company of these very brave and special people. Despite their varying backgrounds (there were professors, writers, readers, poets, journalists, critics, historians, psychologists, aspiring young writers, literature students and the list goes on), the one thing they shared in common was that they all cared about the literary platform in Singapore. They cared about writing, about books.
I say they are brave and special because I have learned so much from this festival- I have listened to the perspectives of political writers speak the pains of their career, journalists struggling to balance their opinion with objectiveness, historians trying to discover truth about our history and even scientists attempting to entertain with the knowledge of science. But above everything I have learned to stand in the shoes of these people and understand why writing matters.
So with the 50 years and counting that our country has grown since independence, the education and development progress faster by the minute and surely we have more opinions and we are equipped with all the right tools to express them. Yet the debate in Singapore becomes less and less, yet the voices are not heard because people don’t see the need or importance of any form of debate, of intellectual life within the country. Mixed with the fear of criticism or judgement, everyone keeps the opinions to themselves. But at the end of the day, if you write with courage if you write simply to share and express, to better articulate your perspective, arouse thoughts in others or even contribute to a discussion; that means more progress and a better tomorrow, however little the difference maybe.
And I think this is going to keep me blogging for at least a while more to come.