Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let's talk about love
The third ContraDiction event will focus on lesser-known poets and musicians.

Ftw! Stephanie Yap actually managed to get ContraDiction 3 advertised in the Sunday Times! 12 August 2007, L25. Sappy headline, but that's ST branding apparently. :P

Love will take centrestage at poetry and music event ContraDiction – including its myriad joys and heartbreaks.

Now in its third year, the annual event celebrating gender and sexuality will be held at arts venue 72-13 this Sunday.

Curating the event this year is poet and playwright Ng Yi-sheng, whose recently staged works include the musical Georgette and the play 251.

Ng, 27, who participated as a reader in previous years, says that this year's event differs from past ones due to its even gender distribution.

While five women and five men will be performing on Sunday, including STOMP star blogger Maia Lee, Ng says the event was testosterone-driven in previous years.

"There are more published writers and poets who are male than female, so I'm glad we've got more women readers this time," says Ng, himself a published writer who will read from his debut poetry collection, Last Boy.

Another change this year is the absence of established writers like Cyril Wong and Alfiaan Sa'at, who both participated in previous readings.

Says Ng: "I want the focus to be on lesser-known artists, as well as people not traditionally considered writers."

Thus, he has rounded up budding poets like Foyle Young Poet Teng Qianxi, musicians like singer-songwriter Iris Judotter, and even bloggers like Maia Lee and Lee Gwo Yinn.

Another participant is civil servant Chan Sze Wei, who works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Chan, 27, will be reading "two little love poems" – one about falling
in love and the other about breaking up.

An extract from a play she wrote last year with the Singapore Repertory Theatre Young Company, about teenage depression, will also be performed.

She hopes the audience will be touched by the stories they hear: "I hope that for each audience member, there will be something in the stories and ideas that will resonate with them, something that they'll take away with them as a new gift."

ContraDiction is on this Sunday at 7:30pm at TheatreWorks, 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road. Admission is free. Rated R-18.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

ContraDiction 3: A Queer Literary Evening

An evening of queer writing - including poetry, drama, blog entries and songs. Readers will include myself, Teng Qian Xi, Chan Sze-Wei, Zhuang Yisa and Maia Lee. Also featured will be original music composed and performed by Iris Judotter and Yak Aik Wee.

Licence from MDA approved. Rated R18.

Date: Sunday, 12 August 2007
Time: 7:30 - 9:30 pm
Venue: 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road

Thursday, August 02, 2007


For the short story that MDA banned, please click here - Alex Au's posted it on Yawning Bread.

I wrote it for the "Tall Tales and Short Stories" event on Sunday. I won't be able to read it at this point, but come anyway - Ovidia Yu will be reading from her story "Pierced Years" and I'll be giving a talk, because indoor talks do not require a licence.

"Tall Tales and Short Stories"
Organised by
Sunday, 5 August

72-13, Mohamed Sultan Road

Below is the rejection letter we received:

CC: Amy TSANG <>, Liane LOO <>,
Norsabariah TUBI <>
Subject: Arts Entertainment licence - "Tall Tales and Short Stories"
From: Veronica Vivien LOOI <>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 14:25:02 +0800

Dear Ms Chong

Your application for a story reading session, entitled "Tall Tales and Short Stories", has been approved on condition that the reading of Lee Low Tar is taken out

The content of Lee Low Tar has been disallowed as it had gone beyond good taste and decency in taking a disparaging and disrespectful view of public officers.



There's a small parallel case here of Tan Tarn How's play "The Lady of Soul and the Ultimate S-Machine", which was not permitted to be staged for some time because (among various reasons) its main character was a male civil servant who was having an affair with a male Minister-of-State.

But it's a different Singapore now. The arts scene has progressed to an extent where people (including journalists) are interested in the cases of censored work, and the Internet's technologies allow banned texts to be distributed freely (go watch Royston Tan's "Cut" on, or Martyn See's "Zahari's 17 Years" on googlevideo, or Tan Pin Pin's "Lurve Me Now" on her university's site).

And while a filmmaker or stage director will suffer large financial setbacks if his/her work is banned for screening/performance - a writer loses very little. Isn't that odd? (Authorities may now try and prove me wrong by making it difficult for me to have future works staged - maybe they'll claim "Georgette" espouses Marxist values?)

This being said, "Lee Low Tar" is an amateur piece of writing - I am not an experienced short story author, after all. And the entire setup is, on a certain level, a wanky artistic gesture, an attention-getting device (compare with the works of Lim Tzay Chuen). And it may hurt the gay movement or the socially-engaged arts community in the long run. I don't know.

But I do like how it works in testing the bureaucratic systems of censorship we have in this country - they are such strange, antiquated, self-sabotaging entities, like warthogs on Pulau Tekong, that it seems to be vital to engage with them before they go extinct (which they will, dear children, they will - someday they'll set up the artist-run system of self-appraisal based on ratings systems rather than muzzling, just like FOCAS suggested).

You see, yes, censorship is violent and stupid.

But it is possible to dance with violent and stupid people.

I gave MDA a test, and they failed it. I'm not the victim. They are.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

INDIGNATION 2007 (update! My story kena banned!)

Heya! I'm involved in two events for IndigNation, our Queer Pride Festival- doing a short story reading with Ovidia Yu on Sunday 5th August and organising/curating ContraDiction, a poetry/literary/music performance on Sunday 12 August, both at 7:30pm at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road.

MDA licences pending. And really, we can't take anything for granted - they just banned Alex Au's Kissing Project photo display, according to the calendar. Not unexpected - the point for us is to keep on pushing the limits, to keep on challenging the unjustified rules until they change.

UPDATE (31/7.07): Jean Ng of Sayoni got a call from Veronica Looi at MDA saying that my short story was not approved for licensing. (Poor Veronica, she's only an Admin Assistant but she has to deliver the dirty news with all her bosses - she's been involved in several bans for IndigNation over the years. How can she live with herself? Especially when she never even gets to read the things she bans.) We might have a mass reading of the short story, though.