Even though there is a lot on this week, it feels like I have not stopped for a few weeks now. With the Singapore Writer’s Festival, the 4th Philippines International Literary Festival and a full gig at Speakeasy #7, it feels like my feet have not touched the ground.
Let’s start with
Singapore Writers Festival 2013
SWF 2013 was a Writer’s Festival that spanned over ten days in the heart of Singapore. Poets, Fiction writers, playwrights, journalists, filmmakers, graphic novelists all piled in to do readings, panel discussions, workshops and more. I was fortunate enough to moderate a Meet The Author event with Folklore and Fairytale specialist Terri Windling. As well as being a writer, she is an editor and anthologist, and gave an extensive talk on how fairytale has evolved through time, affected by publication and the impositions of ideology of those controlling the print. Terri lives in the UK and as I was fortunate enough to spend time with her outside my/her role, I’ll look forward to roaming the Devon hills with her on my return to England.
I also did a reading at Molly Roffey’s Irish Pub, battling the hubbub of the Friday night crowd with poems ‘on Darkness and Dystopia’, the theme of this year’s festival, er, which is basically most of my work. Sharing the stage with Alvin Pang and Kosal Khiev from Cambodia was an honour. Alvin performed finely crafted and moving verse, and Kosal finished the evening with a burst of heartfelt and passionate poems about his remarkable life journey. We were gently guided and organised by Storytelling Revivalist Kamini Ramachandran, who I will gush about shortly.
4th Philippines International Literary Festival
Myself and Kamini boarded our respective planes last Monday to take part in this festival in Manila, the Phillipines. Themed ‘Text and the City’, it spanned over the week but moved from venue to venue every day, between the universities of Manila. We were joined also by Indonesian poet Sitok Srengenge, who gave a reading on Tuesday, a thrumming roof raising performance of incredibly moving poems, performed in Bahasa but subtitled on screen. I was on the floor, in a way that actually I am not very often. It was wonderful to hear work that straddles both craft and performance in this way. Kamini ran a workshop on storytelling in the classroom for THREE HUNDRED teachers. She never even breaks a sweat.
I did a brief reading at Marjorie Evasco’s commemorative dinner, and a workshop for some creative writing students at De La Salle University, Manila. The whole festival was coordinated by poet Dinah Roma, who made sure that we were taken care of at every step.
Events like this, which are happening while a country is collectively grieving after the natural disasters of typhoon and earthquake, are tricky in that you encounter your own privilege starkly in a wider context of destruction. The spirit of the Filipinas is sturdy and scattered with love and humour. It was moving to be there.
Credit goes to Kamini Ramachandran for these photos.
Speakeasy #7 at Artistry
I flew back to a day of feverish zinemaking for my gig at Artistry Coffee House. Artistry reminds me of various Antipodean cafe’s in the UK, but with an American twist, serving windowsill pies and draping the walls with photo exhibits. Speakeasy is a poetry and spoken word night hosted by Pooja Nansi, and she was kind enough to give me a whole gig to myself.
I’ve been producing a limited run of my new zine ‘True Colours’ to fill the gap before any other publication comes through. They are all handpainted and hand sewn, and contain just ten of my new poems. At Speakeasy I thankfully sold all that I’d made, though it looks like a second run is in order. :-).
I was actually quite nervous before this gig, packed out with friendly and unfamiliar faces, and an entire evening to fill with poems. Thank you very much to everyone that came, and also to everyone that took video and photos. Alvin Pang has uploaded a full stream on youtube here!
Much more coming up this week, but I need to go into hiding now, otherwise my head will explode. Much reflecting and chewing over needs to be done, as well as some chill out.