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A History Of The Singapore Writers Festival In 1 Minute

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 19 November 2016
The Singapore Writers Festival recently wrapped up its 2016 edition, which saw more panels, authors, and its largest attendance figures to date. Nearly 3,500 people bought the full festival pass so that they could attend multiple panels where over 200 authors shared their thoughts and ideas.

Debuting three decades ago in 1986, the Singapore Writers Festival has grown stronger every year and has hosted an impressive array of international writers, including British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Neil Gaiman, and Nobel Prize winner Gao Xingjian, among many others. On the local side, the festival aims to present Singaporean authors to the international audience, and in order to avoid alienating any of the local writers, the festival encourages submissions in all four of Singapore’s official languages. For the last two years, the festival has been organized by journalist and poet Yeow Kai Chai in conjunction with the National Arts Council. During this time, the festival has grown extensively, taking over multiple venues around the Civic District and inviting more authors and larger audiences every year.

Courtesy of the Singapore Writers' Festival | The Arts House © JASON ANFINSEN | Cyril Wong Courtesy of Singapore Writers' Festival

Courtesy of the Singapore Writers’ Festival | The Arts House | © librarianfinsen/Flickr | Cyril Wong/ Courtesy of Singapore Writers’ Festival

Every other year, the Singapore Writers Festival also announces the winner of the Golden-Point Award, which is managed by The Arts House and recognizes outstanding submissions across the country’s official languages for poetry and short stories. The goal of the prize is to develop new creative writing talents in Singapore; to achieve that goal, eligibility is limited to writers who have never been commercially published at the time of their entry. Previous winners of the prize have gone on to have great literary success, including two of the country’s most celebrated authors, Alfian Sa’at and Cyril Wong. First place in each of the categories comes with a $4,000 cash prize as well as a $6,000 enrichment grant for further education. The Golden-Point Award was last awarded in 2015, so aspiring writers should start working on their poems and short stories soon in order to enter the competition in 2017.