As the pages turn on another chapter, the 26th edition of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) bids adieu, leaving Festivalgoers with a treasure trove of twist endings and delightful surprises. Hosted by Arts House Limited (AHL) and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC), SWF 2023 proved to be an exceptional literary journey, offering about 200 captivating events that unfolded across the city.
Diverse Delights and Unconventional Adventures
True to its theme, “Plot Twist,” this year’s festival was a rollercoaster of literary surprises. Festivalgoers were treated to a myriad of unconventional programs, including a Hip Hop 50th-anniversary series, combat sports discussions, punk rock performances, and eye-opening walking tours. International authors headlining sold-out sessions added a touch of glamour to the festival’s diverse lineup.
A Literary Feast for All Senses
SWF 2023 brought together a kaleidoscope of literary experiences, from panel discussions and workshops to performances and exhibitions. An evening of hip hop beats on the lawn, with a live DJ setting the mood, added a rhythmic touch to the festivities. Literary curveballs were thrown throughout the festival, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.
International Flair and Local Brilliance
With approximately 330 Singapore-based writers, including moderators, and 40 international authors representing 17 countries, SWF 2023 embraced a global literary community. Notable international figures like Lat, Fabian Fom, and Perumal Murugan brought their unique perspectives to discussions on topics ranging from cartooning to journalism.
Southeast Asian Focus and Multilingual Magic
Signature series like Southeast Asian Focus (SEA Focus), Youth Fringe, and curated Chinese, Malay, and Tamil language programs celebrated homegrown and Southeast Asian talents. The popularity of panels featuring local and regional speakers, such as “63-65: Notes from a Separation,” showcased the rich tapestry of voices in the literary arts.
A Festival of Surprises and Endings
The Festival Closing Reading, titled “An Unlikely Beginning,” featured a powerhouse lineup of poets from around the world disrupting traditional endings and ushering in new beginnings. Festival Community Karaoke provided an entertaining finale as writers, singers, and Festivalgoers took the mic, creating a memorable community sing-along.
Looking Ahead to Future Chapters
As the 26th edition of SWF concludes, the literary baton passes to the next Festival Director, Yong Shu Hoong, promising more literary adventures in the years to come. Save the date for SWF 2024, set to take place from 8 to 17 November 2024.
Post-Festival Blues? Keep the Spirit Alive!
For those feeling the post-SWF blues, the Literary Pioneer Exhibition titled ‘Tell Bowie He’s Only A Rock Star. I, However, Am A Poet,’ dedicated to the late Goh Poh Seng, continues beyond the Festival period. Catch it at Funan till 10 December, followed by a stint at Heartbeat@Bedok until 27 December 2023.
The exhibition will also be featured in Textures 2024 (19 to 28 January 2024) and will run at The Arts House from 28 December 2023 till 28 January 2024.