12 September 2009 : Experience Singapore Literature ‘Voices’
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“As a relative newcomer to Singapore, I was drawn to the “Experience Singapore Literature: Voices” workshop because I had always wondered what was happening in Singapore to help those living in the margins of what can feel like a very competitive and consumerist society. I was so inspired by the presenters and their obvious compassion for the communities they try to understand and support. Using their stories and experiences as a springboard for our own creative work was a great idea, as it made our own work more informed and meaningful. I also appreciated the fact that participants were given a choice of which genre (poetry, prose or drama) to work in, and that each genre had an expert facilitator to guide us, so that we could explore ideas outside of our own comfort zones. The warm and welcoming tone of the workshop allowed me, a foreigner, to meet a lot of new people and see a completely different side to Singapore. I think now that whenever I walk through Geylang, or see a group of migrant nannies or construction workers, I will remember that there are people in Singapore as concerned about them as I am, and that they are not alone in their suffering.
Writing from different perspectives is vital in maintaining our own personal creativity and in raising awareness in others of new ways of looking at old issues and situations. I would love to see the ideas that took fruit in the workshop be further developed, maybe with experiential writing trips, more discussions, readings and eventual publications. My thanks go to all those with the vision of making Singapore a better place for putting together this workshop and for welcoming me into their midst!”
Jacyntha England, English / Drama Teacher
I love the idea of experiential writing trips, I think this is a step to take such a programme further. Not only was this programme an eye-opener for the participants, it was one even for the co-organiser - me! Working with Alvin Tan from The Necessary Stage has always been an enriching and educational experience.
First and foremost, am sorry to the participants who came earlier and waited outside the library till 10am to be let in when the library opened. I will take this into consideration next time and cater for private access, I promise. Of course, for this programme I had such great participants that none of them complained or got angry!
Hearing about the marginalised in society from Jolovam, Yock Leng and Yi-sheng who shared the plights of migrant workers, sex workers in Singapore and gay writing (although as Yi-sheng puts it he doesn’t feel marginalised!) respectively brought us to a very interesting and intense discussion.
After the guidance by 3 of our mentors; Alvin Tan from The Necessary Stage, Poet Yi-sheng and Writer Tan Teck Howe to write either for theatre, poetry or prose, all of us had an amazing time enjoying everyone’s outcomes – the readings, the plots and the acting!