“I realised that all the books I enjoyed were about somewhere else, not my own hometown. I thought that we needed our own literature in order to know about ourselves.” - Goh Poh Seng
Join three local writers from different generations who have published poetry and plays exploring our identity as Singaporeans, in a dialogue exploring the journey to find our unique voice as one nation in the attempts to establish and define what ‘Singapore literature’ is and can be. Chaired by writer and arts entrepreneur Phan Ming Yen, the panel will also revisit some of Goh’s struggles as a writer in newly-minted Singapore that still echo among the new generation of writers today.
About Critical Conversations
As part of the Centre For the Arts’ vision to nurture creative minds and inquiring spirits, the NUS Arts Festival presents Critical Conversations – a series of talks and panel discussions aimed at deepening the discourse and engagement with the themes raised during the festival.
Phan Ming Yen is the author of That Night by the Beach and Other Stories for a Film Score (2012), and also co-wrote The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (2015) and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home (2016). His work has appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Best New Singaporean Short Stories and Kulit. He also contributed to the non-fiction book Singapore Soundscape: Musical Renaissance of a Global City (2014). He is director of the non-profit Global Cultural Alliance.
Amanda Chong is a lawyer trained at Cambridge and Harvard, who writes poems on her lunch breaks. Her first collection, Professions, was published in 2016, and was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2018. Amanda's poetry has been engraved on the Marina Bay Helix Bridge and included in the Cambridge International GCSE syllabus. Her creative writing has appeared in Monocle, The Straits Times and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. As a lawyer, she has served in the United Nations Expert Group on the legal definition of trafficking in persons. She also co-founded ReadAble - Literacy for Life, a non-profit organisation that runs weekly literacy classes for children and migrant women in a low-income neighbourhood (www.amandachong.com)
Image: Ejun Low
Marc Nair is a poet and photographer. He is a recipient of the 2016 Young Artist Award. Starting out as a spoken word artist, he has published five solo volumes of poetry and another four collections in collaboration with visual artists, photographers and graphic artists. He regularly writes and performs in group multi-disciplinary shows both locally and overseas. His latest collection of poetry is Vital Possessions. Marc was the 2016-17 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence and is the co-founder of Mackerel, a culture magazine. He has also worked with Lee Kin Mun, aka mrbrown, on the mrbrown show for over a decade, writing satirical audio and video sketches and songs.
Robert Yeo has published poetry, plays, a novel, essays and a memoir. Performances include plays and an opera, for which he wrote the libretto called Fences. He won the SE Asia Write Award in 2011. His latest books are the plays, The Singapore Trilogy, 2001, collected poems in The Best of Robert Yeo, 2012, and the play, The Eye of History, 2016.