Thursday, December 31, 2009

Three Cheers for ACT3!!!!

With my editor's permission, I reworked an article for my kids' newspaper into a story for The Online Citizen, paying tribute to Singapore's first professional theatre group on their 25th anniversary. (Hint: it's not TheatreWorks.)

Going clockwise from the top, that's Jasmin Sumaat Simon, Ruby Lim-Yang and Rama Chandran, from their first publicity photo in 1981. (Wah lau, they're old.)

Click here.

My short story, "Nostalgia", has been uploaded on the Singapore culture site Five Foot Way. It's based on artist Michael Lee Hong Hwee's installation at the National Museum.

I'm not actually happy with the written version yet, so it's best if you listen to it in audio. It's supposed to be a little creepy. :)

(Image by Stephen Black).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

@ School in Bengaluru!

As promised, here are photos from my workshop at Widia Poorna Pragna School:

And a few from Jnana Vijnana Vidyapeetha:

Sadly, no shots from the last school, whose name escapes me for the time being (though it was terribly posh). Camera breakdown, doncha know. The assistant teacher said she might mail me some, but don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: The last school's name was MES Kishore Kendra Public School. Wrote 'em all down in my notebook.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Bengaluru now!

Did a school workshop yesterday at a Hindu-based school, and I'll be doing another in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the battery on my camera has gone out (think I left it on by accident) and I didn't bring my charger. What's more, neither Adeline Foo nor Felix Cheong, the other Sg , have brought cameras themselves.

What's a compulsive archivist like me gonna do? Can't use PhotoBooth for everything. Can I?

Evening event tonight at Time Out bookstore on Cunningham Road. 6:30pm - we'll be talking about sensationalism and censorship in Singapore. Adeline Foo, who's a kid's writer, will be reading excerpts of her new racy ho-mo-sexual play!

Oh, and this really deserves a post of its own - but I've finally figured out where my Singaproe Art Show short story "Nostalgia" was uploaded. Click here to download the audio story.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm going to India!

Should've blogged about this before. Was featured in the Straits Times yesterday, in fact.

Basically, I'll be participating in the Bengaluru Habba and the Chennai Local. Here are my dates so far:

Tuesday, 15 December:
Literary Reading (with Felix Cheong and Adeline Foo)
Time Out Reliance book store
6:30-8:00 pm.

Tuesday, 22 December,
Poetry reading
#1 Elliots Beach Road, Besant Nagar,

I'll be back on Xmas eve if you all want to kacau me. Don't call my handphone, can?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Jakarta Post owes me an itsy-bisty apology...

Alerted by Gwee Li Sui's Facebook notes! The Jakarta Post covered Singapore Writers Festival in this article, which included the following paragraph:

"There were almost 70 Singaporean literary luminaries directly participating in events, including established writers like Catherine Lim (The Bondmaid, 1995), a self-described “incorrigible, unstoppable storyteller”, and de-facto poet laureate Edwin Thumboo (Ulysses by the Merlion, 1979) to emerging talents like Wena Poon, who won the Singapore Literature Prize for her debut novel Lions in Winter."

Well, as most of you know:

1. "Lions in Winter" is a collection of short stories, not a novel.

2. Wena's debut novel was actually the self-published sci-fi thriller "Biophilia".

3. She didn't win the SLP. She was shortlisted the same year that, ahem, I won. (She was my favourite to win, though.)

Wena's pretty pissed at them too. They referred to her latest book, "The Proper Care of Foxes", as a romance.

Speaking of literary gossip, there's been an intriguing spate happening between NUS English student Nicholas Liu and Gilbert Koh, a banker who also goes by the nom de blog of Mr Wang.

Basically, Nicholas did a QLRS review of Gilbert's first collection of poems, "Two Baby Hands". It's a very, very cutting review, but I have to say I agree with the points made - I've got a certain style and approach to poetry, after all.

Gilbert, however, hasn't handled the criticism well. And it's quite natural to be upset - I'm always upset when I read bad or even mediocre reviews of my theatre work. But he got really - well - snarky and ad hominemly defensive in his responses: see here, here and here.

I dormed with Gilbert at the Pulau Ubin writers' retreat, so I can say he's a pretty nice guy in person. His poetry's a hell of a lot more accessible than mine, too.

But he's gotta learn something: almost all coverage is good coverage. More people are going to check out his book because of the review, and a lot of them are going to like the book. And the controversy caused by this is making more people think about our work in new ways.

Now if only Jakarta Post would write something, good or bad, about me...

Friday, November 06, 2009

I haven't mentioned, have I, that I've set up another Flying Circus Project blog?

It's on Wordpress this time. Go to


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

expo zéro by Musée de la Danse

I'm serving as the official documenter for this! It's on this Saturday and Sunday, 1-6pm, at 72-13/TheatreWorks. Drop by if you can!

TheatreWorks / 72-13 presents

Flying Circus Project Platform 01: expo zéro by Musée de la Danse

The first-ever dancing museum in Singapore hosted by the Flying Circus Project, expo zéro is a unique exhibition without objects conceived by acclaimed French choreographer, Boris Charmatz and Musée de la Danse.

expo zéro is only open on two days: 7 & 8 November at 72-13 between 1pm and 6pm.

An `exhibition' project with no photographs, no sculptures, no installations, no videos. Zero things, not one stable object. But artists, and areas occupied by gestures, projects, bodies, stories, dances which everyone will choose to imagine.

In the process spirit of the Flying Circus Project (FCP) conceived by Ong Keng Sen, expo zéro is a kind of 'think tank' through analysis, description, performance, movements and ideas which each guide-artist will develop with the audience. This comes at a timely occasion as Singapore has no dancehouse (tanzhaus, dansens hus, centre chorégraphique national), a question which TheatreWorks / 72-13 is presently pondering.

expo zéro is headed by Boris Charmatz in collaboration with dancers-choreographers, François Chaignuad, Mette Ingvartsen and actor-director Yves-Noël Genod. In Singapore, it collaborates with Asian artists, architects, theorists of FCP 2010 like Padmini Chettur, Heman Chong, Torrance Goh of FARM, Donna Miranda, Joavien Ng and Ong Keng Sen.
For all bios, please go to /

Visitors will experience these individuals' visions, subjective and utopian, of what a dancing museum can be.

Join us and be part of expo zéro now!


Flying Circus Project Platform 01
expo zéro by Musée de la Danse

Date: 7 & 8 November 2009
Musée hours: 1pm – 6pm daily
Venue: 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road
Admission: Free

Please call 6737-7213 or email to register your attendance.

For more information:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still at Singapore Writers Festival...

And informing you of changes to events I'm involved in! Yes, I'm still in all the events I blogged about earlier, and right now I'm specifically working on the walking tour I'm doing for the Library's Experiencing Singapore Literature.

But the final event, the launch of the "Tumasik" anthology, has been moved up to Friday, just after the Golden Point Awards. Come for the free food, if for nothing else.

Will also be at the Creative Writing Experience, talking about my Survivor Ubin experience. More on that later. ;)

30 Oct 2009, 6:00 pm
Launch of Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore

Price: Free
Venue : Play Den

Co-published with the Iowa Writing Program, University of Iowa, the anthology Tumasik features the works of Singapore’s finest writers hailing from the four official languages of English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Edited by poet Alvin Pang, the anthology includes Singaporean writers such as Anuar Othman, Madeleine Lee, Quah Sy Ren, Johar Buang, Toh Hsien Min, Kirpal Singh, Verena Tay, MK Narayanan, Latha and Wong Yoon Wah.

Event end: 7.30pm

31 Oct 2009, 6:00 pm
The Creative Writing Experience

Price: Free
Venue : The Hall

Featuring: Alvin Pang, Suchen Christine Lim

This October, 15 Singaporean writers are taking part in a week-long creative writing camp on Pulau Ubin, based on the renowned Arvon retreats in the United Kingdom and organised by Catalyst Central, a not-for-profit arts initiative directed by Alvin Pang and Fong Hoe Fang. Some of the participants and tutors will share their camp experiences and discuss the value of structured writing residencies in sharpening writing skills. You can also find out about how you can participate in future creative writing residencies!

Event end: 7pm

In collaboration with British Council and Catalyst Central

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm gonna be MIA until Saturday.

I'm going for the first Arvon Writers' Retreat on Pulau Ubin from Monday 19 Oct to Saturday 24 Oct - which is, of course, the day the Singapore Writers' Festival opens its doors to the public.

Do I think it's been particularly well organised this year? No, I do not. Witnessed its wonderful ambitious themes fall apart due to lack of budget and lack of luck.

But it still is the first year I'll be a featured participant. So here's the events I'm involved in (including one I'm moderating!):

24 Oct 2009, 12:30 pm
Listen to This

Price: Free
Venue : Living Room

Featuring: Madeleine Lee, Ng Yi-Sheng, David Leo

Moderator: Eleanor Wong

Cutting beneath Singapore’s sceptic veneer, Madeleine Lee, Ng Yi-Sheng and David Leo lyrically weave the nation’s essences into poetry. These poets are politically aware, transnational and cosmopolitan, frequently presenting their intensely focused, self-questioning and highly individualised perspectives of Singaporean life, society and culture via their collections. Listen in and find out how Singapore has inspired and challenged them.

Event end: 1.30pm

30 Oct 2009, 6:00 pm (TIME AND DATE CHANGED!!!)
Launch of Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore

Price: Free
Venue : Play Den

Co-published with the Iowa Writing Program, University of Iowa, the anthology Tumasik features the works of Singapore’s finest writers hailing from the four official languages of English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Edited by poet Alvin Pang, the anthology includes Singaporean writers such as Anuar Othman, Madeleine Lee, Quah Sy Ren, Johar Buang, Toh Hsien Min, Kirpal Singh, Verena Tay, MK Narayanan, Latha and Wong Yoon Wah.

Event end: 7.00pm

31 Oct 2009, 5:00 pm
Award-Winning Writers from Singapore

Price: Free
Venue : Blue Room

Featuring: Ng Yi-Sheng, Chia Hwee Pheng, Yeng Pway Ngon, Mohd Latiff Bin Mohd, Latha
Moderator: Kirpal Singh

Singapore’s multi-language and multi-cultural landscape is reflected best in its varied and colourful literary scene. Join Singapore Literature Prize winners and Cultural Medallion award winners as they discuss their roles as writers, their literary adventures in the four official languages of English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and their hopes for literature in Singapore.

Event end: 6pm

01 Nov 2009, 3:00 pm
Evolution: The Curious Case of Books

Price: Free
Venue : Blue Room

Featuring: Thangavel Palamalai, Appala Narasiah, Meira Chand, Robert Yeo
Moderator: Ng Yi-Sheng

How do books affect or change our lives? What is this medium that moves and transforms? Does it have any place in our visually saturated and fast moving world? Join four of our top writers from India and Singapore as they share their favourite books and debate on the contemporary role of books and literature.

Event end: 4pm

01 Nov 2009, 5:00 pm
Dissecting the Merlion

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

The Merlion is a many-splendoured thing, alternatively praised and parodied. From its birth as a uniquely Singaporean tourism symbol to its reputation for endless literary exposition since its lyrical lionisation by Edwin Thumboo, the completely made-up creature has earned much currency. How it has come to take on the baggage of a nascent nation is a compelling phenomenon. Dissecting the Merlion brings together eight writers from different backgrounds and generations for a fun, no-holds-barred debate to expound on the topic: the Merlion has been maligned.

Writers include Alfian Sa’at, Desmond Kon, Leong Liew Geok, Ng Yi-Sheng, Alvin Pang, Adrian Tan, Teng Qian Xi and Ovidia Yu. The moderator-host is Eleanor Wong. Also to be launched at the event is a poetry anthology inspired by the Merlion across the four national languages.

Event end: 7pm