in lieu of resolutions - my literary workplan for the year and beyond.
i think i'm going to have to cut back on the travel, and to some degree on the school workshops - i'm not in WGR this year, but in all honesty i need a break. tentmaking, actual writing, and outreach - one has got to give. last year it was actual writing. this year it's gonna have to be outreach.
project SPWM 3 - Apr 16
project SPWMANTHO 3 - Q3 16
project WORKSHOPS (WAVE 6) - Q3 16
project POETRYSG (WAVE 2) - Q2 16
project IPSTER - Weekly
project ALWMA - Q2 16
project SINGLITSTATION - Jul 16
project UNFREE - Q3-4 16
project 10SB - Q3-4 16
project BOOTCAMP 2 (Prose) - Q4 16
in the works:
project SINGPROWRIMO - late 16 / early 17?
project PROSESG - 17-18?
project SINGLITDAY - 18?
project INSTABLR - late 16 / early 17?
project SNAPVINE - late 17
project MACHINA - early 17
project CROSSOVER (PHASE 2) - mid 17
project PISANGCANTOS - mid-late 17
project BEAUTOPIA - 18
project DRAGON GATE - 18
recap of 2015
project BOOTCAMP 1 - Mar
project SPWM 2 - Apr
project WORKSHOPS (WAVE 5) - May
project IPSTER - Aug - current
project $20ANDJUSTICE - Oct - current
project CROSSOVER (PHASE 1) - Aug - Nov
project SONNETS+ - Nov
project SPWMANTHO 2 - Nov
project POETRYSG (WAVE 1) - Nov
a few people have been asking me which poems are newly upsized and which poems are original. so i did a reference chart in both image and excel (downloadable) form for your convenience.
tl;dr - lots of things happened.
30 Oct - Day 1 - a furious rush down to check out the launch of itinerant bard, Koh Jee Leong's critically acclaimed Steep Tea. This event was at Booktique, and clashed with the opening ceremony of SWF, necessitating some vehicular scrambling, ferry service duties, and a mad rush to and fro via the carpark of old parliament house - i.e. the whole of SWF in a microcosm. i missed the ceremony part of the ceremony but arrived in time for free food. being late, i hung out with new friend michael farrell and some of the poetry.sg / ISD crew in the awkward kids / cool kids corner outside the bookstore and in a mini alley between the temporary storage thingy and the wall. it was airconditioned and there were seats but it was a mini alley and people kept mistaking it for the way to the toilet. after i while i wandered off to the screening room and found utter head trips screening and tripped out a bit.
31 Oct - Day 2 - also known as the day of the avocado. thanks to the generosity of dr chen deah chien, a tub of premium avocado matcha green tea ice cream was gifted to singpowrimo. sounded simple enough - sell ice cream on a hot day, all proceeds go to singpowrimo. we just needed to stump up manpower - our very generous volunteers bernice and chloe. however, there was one piddly detail - the ice creams were $15 a tub. wehhhh. and we weren't allowed to sell them any cheaper. thanks to the generosity of swf passersby, we did make a few hundred dollars, which we are very grateful for - but i kind of feel we could have sold out the whole tub if we had just priced it a tad cheaper.
i wandered in and out of sessions from the morning, having to keep an eye on the ice cream - the standout was "Getting Published Overseas" with Toh Hsien Min, Koh Jee Leong and Alvin Pang - you'd be hard pressed to find a better qualified panel in Singapore. Lots of good banter and questioning on the Singapore scene, and its inwardlookingness and outwardlookingness.
The afternoon also saw the launch of Hao Guang and David's virgin collections - Deeds of Light and For The End Comes reaching, collectively forming the first releases from the Ten Year Series imprint of Math Paper Press. I had fun hosting the panel - both of the guys are good readers and keen observers of the human condition, and Hao Guang's scholarly calm is an interesting foil to David who basically just goes rogue every few minutes into a splutter of obscenities / perversion / wtf are you talking about.
I was glad to see the room stacked to capacity for the two young poets. (because it only gets harder from here. hurhurhuhurhurr.)
The day ended with the 2nd Sing Lit Town Hall, convened hastily in the wake of NAC's Lit Arts Masterplan consultation sessions. A few of us bemoaned that the consultation sessions held a month prior were mainly occupied by the (good) NAC brief, and left effectively 15 minutes for consultation (of the 20-30 lit arts stakeholders invited). So we put together our own self-consultation town halls, to allow us to bellyache - and hopefully get some ground-up initiatives off the ground. This one was well attended, and had useful contributions from the NAC officers present (thanks May and Puay Shian!) as well as international consultants around by way of the festival.
We finally adjourned to Lau Pa Sat to wash down the bellyaching with bellyfilling - sadly, this plus the townhall meant that we missed the Epic International Poetry Night at the Gallery, which is always great fun. I commemorate this event with an out-of-focus photo, because tired.
1 Nov - Day 3 - kicked off early at 10am with Things Not To Ask A Writer in the Chamber with Adeline Foo and Shamini Flint, hosted by Ian Chung. As can be observed from the photo, the early hour destroyed Adeline, and Shamini looked out to kill before her morning coffee... but we survived. There was a particularly offensive uncle who in the Q&A posed a question that went something like - "So I hear that all of you have failed in your various careers, which is why you became a writer, unlike me - I have been very successful in my career. Now I am approaching retirement, so I am thinking that being a writer sounds like a very easy and enjoyable life..." and somewhere around there I lost the question. I was waiting for Shamini to obliterate him with lawyerly hellfire, but I found out later that she misunderstood the question because it was so absurd. I responded to him obliquely, as I usually do, with poetry.
After that SWF bought lunch at Asian Market Cafe at Raffles City, which is always nice. Got to meet an interesting mix of local and international writers, from comic artist Lefty Kam to festival board chair Philip Jeyaratnam to the editor Ravi Shankar - of course after that I had to pop down to the launch of UNION, edited by Ravi and Alvin Pang. It is literally the literary phonebook.
the UNION launch was 50% contributors, which is no rap on it at all, its huge. lots of people were going around trying to get each other to sign. I circulated my copy and tried to get people to sign with pictures, to moderate success.
Toh Hsien Min followed the brief (see left).
It was also very nice to see rare appearances by Chandran Nair (who many of us had never met before), Dr Lee Tzu Pheng, and Ms Ho Poh Fun. Dr Lee was a former mentor, and Ms Ho anchored the Creative Writing Club back in RJ when I did a stint as chair - I was able to finally pass them hardcopies of my books - sonnets from the singlish for Ms Ho, and a luxury we cannot afford for Dr Lee.
last event of the day was the Benz (Best New Singaporean Short Stories) Volume 2 and Lontar Volume 4 Launch. I think it's a great idea to brand something "Best New Singaporean" anything - of course tongue ironically in cheek, Singapore being Singapore - and then completely practically too, because I assume it will sell. how do you introduce an average Singaporean to something new? sell them the "Best New Singaporean" anything. I'm totally going to appropriate that title for poetry some day. (heads up Jason!)
2 Nov - Day 4 - A weekday, so only one event. The Creative Arts Programme's 25th anniversary party. While the lineup was a refreshing change from the usual parade of yellow middle-class yuppie dudes (or well, just dudes) - i was really disappointed with the event. 20+ people showed up, a good 30-40% of who were mentors and event organisers. the rest looked like recent participants. where was the alumni? where was everyone older than 20 and younger than 40 - ie the bulk of CAP's "product"? besides Qianxi, Terence Heng and me - there was nary a published CAP alum in sight. the CAPpers I contacted afterwards had no idea the event happened.
shocking, and speaks to the growing irrelevance of a quarter-century-old programme. the sentimental bit of me immediately thought, hell, i should organise a proper silver jubilee party for CAP and chase all the old friends out of the woodworks. but then realitycheck set in and i put that very much on the backburner. if there is enough enthusiasm for that particular community, i don't need to be the one to make it happen, given that i was never socially central to CAP - it was very much a pre- learning-to-deal-with-other-people-adequately stage of my life.
3 Nov - Day 5 - ISD sweeps Golden Point Awards! The English Poetry category was dominated by Daryl Lim, David Wong, and Amanda Chong, all of whom are SingPoWriMo participants, members of the Image-Symbol Department, and alumni of the Manuscript Bootcamp. If you have no idea what any of this is, check out Ten Year Series where everything will be explained. Not succinctly.
I was also allowed into the room to videograph all this because honorable mention, chinese poetry. and this isn't the last that GPA will hear of me - i'm going to keep plugging away at the non-english languages because cross-pollination - challenge or opportunity - can only be a good thing for the scene. if we're going to keep saying we have four official languages and market ourselves as a bilingual nation then our writers should lead by example.
in lieu of celebration, most of the team adjourned back to Banana Arts Center - to pull a latenighter ironing out all the kinks (well, most of the kinks) for the launch of poetry.sg the next day!
4 Nov - Day 6 - the big one! a huge double launch.
singpowrimo 2015: the anthology, the second in its series, captures the best of the 30 days of madness of april 2015, the second Singapore Poetry Writing Month. partially crowdfunded through a successful indiegogo campaign, the anthology gathers 157 poems culled from a selection of the 1300 writers (now 1400++) in the facebook group. this edition was edited by daryl yam, jennifer anne champion, and me.
if you want to read the freshest, liveliest voices in the sg english poetry scene - there's no better place to start. a sprinkling of these new talents in the latest singpowrimo-spawned workshop group: [insert cool name here] including Ruth Tang, Rodrigo de la Pena Jr, and Rohan Naidu entertained the packed audience, and outgoing editor of the previous volume, Ann Ang, brought the first half of the launch to a close.
what can I say about this all-star team? ISD, bootcamp, whatchamacallit - they picked up poetry.sg where jen crawford, alvin and jee leong left off with the Singapore Poetry Archive (SPARK) and finally made it happen - a huge database of 50 poets, featuring not just bios and biblios and selected poems, but 62,579 words of individualised critical commentary, and 81 videos of them reading their work. this is just the beginning - the team is committed for a year to continue growing the database, and let's see what happens if NAC renews our funding - perhaps 4 languages, or even other genres are on the cards.
my main job for this project is to throw money at them and watch good shit happen. please throw money at me so i can throw more at them.
5 Nov - Day 7 - and on the seventh day, we rested.
6 Nov - Day 8 - and on the eighth day, i continued to rest, instead of going to the 12-hour Attitude Problem madness allnighter curated by Huzir Sulaiman, much to my chagrin. i really hope they re-stage it, on a proper weekend, possibly at a better acoustic venue, during daylight hours, because i am no longer young.
7 Nov - Day 9 - after the exertions of the first week, i was able to just go to events and listen for a change. caught Gwee Li Sui and smart ang mohs talking about lit prizes in the morning; hopped over to Suntec (weird venue) to see an eclectic troika of Ho Kwon Ping, Bertha Henson and Pooja Nansi trade diverse but optimistic views on our national future in "Imagine Singapore"; chionged back to TAH, tompanging newfound friend agustinus wibowo (who is my latest facebook headworm - he keeps posting ministories on his travels that just make me pause and listen) and NAC friends; hopped into the end of a session on lit reviews with Yong Shu Hoong, Stephanie Ye, Aaron Lee, O Thiam Chin and Jeremy Tiang - where I snuck in a question on whether QLRS should get with the times and embed facebook comments, heh heh; then had my mind blown in a session in The Chamber with the mad, mad Christian Bök going Interstellar.... which broke poor Hao Guang (see right).
I ended the day with a bit of poetry reading - Singapura Campur at the Gallery, with a big pile of readers literally pulled out of a hat by enthusiastic moderator Khoo Sim Eng: Kelvin Tan, Shelley Bryant, Yeo Wei Wei, Jerrold Yam, Wong Su Ann, Divya Victor, Audrey Chin, and Marc Nair. I got the closing slot because I told Sim Eng I needed time to put together something special.
I did a short set of new sonnets from sonnets from the singlish upsized edition - making this the first time and first place I'd read out anything from the half old, half new book, double the size of the previous sonnets from the singlish (which is now available free and open sourcey right here on this website.. but you'll have to buy the new one.)
but the special bit was a parlour trick that i regularly pull off - i.e. the summary poem, this time an empat perkataan. hwa chong has seen me do this a few times at YAWP(?) and it always brings joy, but it kind of hurts my head.
8 Nov - Day 10 - the final day kicked off with a workshop from the Bökster himself, where he again blew our minds with unreadable undiscoverable unconscionable conceptual poems of different shapes and sizes and flavors. (anagrams are one area i feel like exploring sometime in the not-so-immediate future.)
but for all of the flash and pizzazz, he also put together a nice tight mini-package on basic poetic craft that outdid anything the much more highly-qualified (one would think) paul muldoon gave us last year (basically a ton of estoric rambliness and a round of immaculate corpse, for goodness' sake). not just a conceptualist, but also good strong basics - i'll be using his frame the next time i teach poetry for sure.
we then brought him to eat yong tau foo at funan (in his suit) because he looked hungry. (and promised to bring him to eat chicken rice + sip singapore slings some other time, which did indeed happen on a later date.)
coming back at The Arts House after yong tau foo, i realised i'd missed the gig of friends, but managed to catch up with them just after - the HubbaBubbas - Ryan, Stephanie and Mervyn, a talented post-acoustic trio merging big voice, slick guitar, tight harmonies and rocking vocal percussion into a smooth, folksy sound. (being an a capella alum i am of course a fan. ) new SWF under yeow kai chai is definitely bringing in new faces and new styles - i'm looking forward to their EP next year, and i got to flog them my book too, so #supportlocal and hurrahs all round.
more wandering around the festival - saw the very smart Ranjit Hoskote cross swords with our own Paul Tan, peeked into the ineffable Desmond Kon's session with the Bökster, and then off into the Chamber for my first crack at the Closing Debate! i got the lucky first spot, which means i got to shut off completely once my speech was done without needing to activate my brain for rebuttals or whatnot. my team of Vernetta "is Denise" Lopez, the fab Deb Emmanuel and Adrian "The Teenage Textbook" Tan put up a logical, practical and clear-minded fight in proposing that Singaporeans are Not Dreamers.... but of course, in a writers' festival, the opposition led by Onietta Effendi, Hirzi Zulkiflie, Shamini Flint and Gwee Li Sui crushed us mercilessly. (I blame Hirzi's five million fans who managed to pack themselves into the over-capacity Chamber.) but the verbal barbs flew fast and furious, the bad jokes and horrible puns (chiefly Adrian and Gwee) hazed up the Old Parliament, and somewhere out there, an old man turned in his grave... because the house declared that Singaporeans are Dreamers! IT IS FINISHED!
#endSWF #collapse #nomoretill2016
so this imprint is a thing. check it out, its explained better over there.
...is exhausting me!
i do however want to share this drafty draft performance poem, which i trotted out as my answer to my panel from this morning - "things not to ask a writer", with the very funny Shamini Flint and Adeline Foo, moderated by Ian Chung.
At the tail end of my whirlwind tour through Australia, I made a stop at the SA Writers Centre in Adelaide and conducted a workshop on Asian forms, ranging from the more familiar haiku, tanka, rengu/renga, pantun, to the rediscovered forms liwuli and empat perkataan that Singaporean writers have appropriated and run away with in the past few years.
The workshop went down well, and attracted (to my initial trepidation) local Australian writers Mike Hopkins and Rob Walker, who both had very kind things to say. Both of them took to the liwuli like naturals, and their mod-liwuli offerings can be found here and here.
Somewhere along the line I also managed to get heard by David Martin Jones, who decided to borrow a couple of my lines to make a political point in what is ostensibly a review of the LKY musical (?!?)
"The young satirist Joshua Ip admits that in Singapore ‘I hold my own tongue /I eat my own words/ I shut my own trap’. To prove Ip’s point, in March, the party state imprisoned a sixteen year old blogger, Amos Yee, for obscenity."
"Young satirist"??? You didn't hear it from me.
Singapore Writers Festival is coming up in late Oct/early Nov, and its moving to The Arts House!
Here are the thingies i'm involved in this year:
Sat 31 Oct 4-5pm (Gallery) - LAUNCH OF "DEEDS OF LIGHTSABERS" (by Tse Hao Guang) AND "FOR THE EMPIRE COMES REACHING"(by David Wong).
- I'll be moderating the double launch of these two debut poetry collections from a galaxy far, far away called Ten Year Series - the first two poets of the six to survive this year's grueling Manuscript Bootcamp.
Sun 1 Nov 10-11am (Play Den) - THINGS NOT TO ASK A WRITER with Adeline Foo and Shamini Flint, moderated by Corrie Tan (Festival Pass) -
- I don't actually know what I'm going to say for this one but I'll make up something funny. (I can't imagine how the Q&A is going to work for this one.)
Thu 4 Nov 830-930pm (Gallery) - LAUNCH OF POETRY.SG AND SINGPOWRIMO 15: THE ANTHOLOGY, with Hao Guang, David Wong, Jennifer Champion, Amanda Chong, and many other readers.
- One is a website featuring videos, poems, bios, and critical introductions for 50 of Singapore's finest poets, that aims to be the first place you look for sg poetry on the web. One is an anthology bringing together the most exciting young voices from this year's Singapore Poetry Writing Month, that should be the first place you look for young sg writing!
Sat 7 Nov 7-830pm (Gallery) - SINGAPURA CAMPUR: ODE TO MY FAVOURITE PLACE with Jerrold Yam, Audrey Chin, Divya Victor, Yeo Wei Wei, Kelvin Tan, Wong Su Ann and Marc Nair, moderated by Khoo Sim Eng (Free Event)
- Lots of cool writers read lots and lots of singlit! I will read a SG50 poem. and other stuff.
Sun 8 Nov 4-5pm (TBC) - LAUNCH OF THE EPIGRAM BOOKS COLLECTION OF BEST NEW SINGAPOREAN SHORT STORIES VOL 2 / LONTAR #4 AND #5, with Victor Fernando R Ocampo, Stephanie Ye,Jeremy Tiang, Gemma Pereira and Cheryl Julia Lee moderated by Jason Erik Lundberg.
- Launch of the collection which, aside from being best best best, should get a prize for greatest number of modifying adjectives before a noun (in this case, "stories"). Happy to be in it!
Sun 8 Nov 7-830pm (Chamber) - CLOSING DEBATE - THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT SINGAPOREANS ARE NOT DREAMERS with Adrian Tan, Gwee Li Sui, Oniatta Effendi, Shamini Flint, Vernetta Lopez, Hirzi Zulkiflie and Deborah Emmanuel, moderated by Petrina Kow (Free Event)
- Loud people shouting at one another! I just want to fulfil a childhood fantasy by going up to lky's chair and singing "Imagine".
i'm coming back from australia, which was productive, and i have 30 old/new sonnets that i need to get out of my system. i was aiming for 22, so i could release a revised sonnets from the singlish with 50% upsize (44 +22 = 66) ! now it looks like it might be 75% upsize (44+ 33 = 77), or possibly even 100% upsize... 88 sounds like a good number, really...
here are the titles for your amusement
- last night the furniture attacked the gays
- children at reunion dinner
- force majeure
- ultimate warrior
- the girl everybody loved
- taken time
- remembering singapore
- flight interruptions
- when mom speaks
- lai lah last pick
- ineffective poetry workshop
- a nose for the job
- monkey enlists
- but we can still eat them
- guarding pulau tekong, dec 2000
- monkey writes a poem
- grandmother shows us her $3 comb
- grandmother prays
Off to a mate's wedding, and then a whistle-stop reading tour of Australia generously hosted by Griffith Review as part of their New Asia Now issue!
Nearly a year ago, I sent in a couple of pieces for an open call by Griffith for "40 Under 40", a bumper issue of the Australian journal featuring 40 new Asian voices under the age of 40. One of mine snuck in, thanks to coeditors Julianne Schultz and Jane Camens, and the issue came out this year under the revised title "New Asia Now".
Together with Chinese enfant terrible Murong Xuecun and the eclectic Indonesian Maggie Tiojakin, I'll be reading from New Asia Now and my own work while discussing the ripples of change spreading across Asian writing at a series of writing festivals and events - Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Adelaide.
Will drop a list of events soon - pretty excited!
a singaporean poet with an unhealthy addiction to metrical forms.
you can buy any of my titles at:
- booksactually (9 yong siak st)
- online here (they deliver internationally). the buylinks are below:
all content copyright of joshua ip 2012