Get ready to embark on a literary adventure like no other as the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns for its 26th edition from November 17 to November 26, 2023. Organized by Arts House Limited (AHL) and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC), SWF 2023 promises to break the mold with a series of unconventional and genre-defying programs that challenge the boundaries of literature and creativity. This year’s theme, “Plot Twist,” invites you to explore the unexpected connections and unlikely combinations that emerge when seemingly unrelated things come together.
Expect the Unexpected
Prepare to be amazed as SWF 2023 unfolds with a multitude of surprises. With nearly 200 in-person programs featuring about 250 local and international presenters, this festival is a playground for curiosity and open-mindedness. While honoring the traditional literary pillars of the festival, such as the Literary Pioneer series, Southeast Asian Focus, Youth Fringe, and SWF Playground, SWF 2023 pushes the envelope with unique pairings and connections, expanding the horizons of the written and spoken word. This year also shines a special spotlight on Asian-American authors.
Inclusivity and Accessibility
SWF is committed to diversity and inclusivity, ensuring that its events are as accessible as possible. The festival grounds are wheelchair-friendly and welcoming to assistance dogs. Sign language interpreters and note-taking services can be arranged upon request. Festivalgoers can reach out to the festival team for access support across the various programs.
Dive into a World of Literary Surprises
Prepare for an extraordinary lineup of festival commissions and multidisciplinary programs that go beyond the traditional boundaries of a literary festival. Highlights include “50 Years of Bars, Flows and Beats,” a special program celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop, featuring music critics, rappers, musicians, and cultural historians. Explore the intimate connection between hip hop and literature in “We Never Thought Hip Hop Would Bring It This Far,” where writers share their favorite hip hop songs from each decade alongside a live DJ.
Exploring Lost Singapore and More
For those looking for adventure, join the walking tours through “Lost Singapore” that explore both familiar and lesser-known places in the city. These tours offer unique insights from writers, researchers, and historians who know these places inside out.
Expect the Unexpected
For a dose of spontaneity and excitement, sign up for “Unexpected Pairings,” a wildcard program with a secret topic, mystery writers, and zero guarantees. Unique closing programs promise to end the festival with a bang. Enjoy the Festival Community Karaoke, where writers serenade you with unexpected song choices, and wrap up the festival with “An Unlikely Beginning,” a final reading that leaves loose ends untied for an alternative ending.
Refreshing Festival Favorites
This year, even festival favorites have received refreshing revamps in both format and content. The Literary Pioneer Exhibition spotlights the late Goh Poh Seng, a pioneering figure in Singapore’s arts and culture scene. His rebel spirit, which fueled his groundbreaking legacy, takes center stage. Festivalgoers can also look forward to programs related to the exhibition.
Celebrating Diversity in Language
SWF celebrates diversity in language with programs led by guest curators representing different language communities. The Chinese language programs, led by guest curator Yap Seow Choong, delve into unexpected connections between the Qing Dynasty and Singapore and explore writers’ workspaces. Malay language programs, curated by Aqmal Noor, feature discussions on award-winning works and performances of Malay poetry. Tamil language programs, under Chitra Ramesh’s curation, feature a keynote lecture by acclaimed writer Perumal Murugan and delve into the history of Tamil cultural heritage in Singapore.
International headliners include renowned scholars, authors, and creators like Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Lemn Sissay, and John Patrick Green. Their presence adds a global dimension to the festival’s diverse lineup.
Spotlight on Asian-American Authors
Supported by the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the festival spotlights Asian-American authors, including Jeff Chang, Fatimah Asghar, Emily X.R. Pan, and more. Their narratives and voices take center stage, reflecting the growing prominence of Asian-American literature.
Southeast Asian Focus with a Twist
SWF joins forces with Singapore Book Council for SEA Focus, offering programs that subvert expectations in narratives. Explore the power of humor in storytelling, literary translation as a tool for empowerment, and the significance of the kebaya in the region.
Nurturing Young Literary Enthusiasts
The SWF Youth Fringe, in collaboration with Sing Lit Station, continues to cultivate a passion for literature among young readers. Youth Moderators are trained to moderate programs involving international authors, giving young readers a sense of ownership in the literary arts.
Parents and children can enjoy family-friendly programs under SWF Playground, including pop-up readings and interactive music sessions.
Early Bird Savings
Don’t miss this unconventional edition of SWF filled with twists and turns from 17 – 26 November 2023. Enjoy 20% Early Bird Savings from 25 September 2023 to 25 October 2023, by purchasing Festival Passes on www.singaporewritersfestival.com.
Support and Sponsors
SWF 2023 is made possible with the support of various sponsors and partners, including the U.S. Embassy in Singapore as Major Sponsor, JCDecaux as Official Media Partner, Singapore Airlines as Official Airline, and more.