This year's Golden Point Award, Singapore's biennial creative writing competition for short stories and poetry by emerging writers, received a record 778 entries, the highest since it began in 1993.
Some 43 authors were honoured for their literary excellence at an award ceremony last night at The Arts House. They were presented with their prizes by the event's guest of honour, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth.
Addressing an audience of 180, Mr Baey said he was "encouraged" by the trend of more people submitting their works for the competition.
He also noted the wide age range of participating writers this year - the youngest is 10, while the oldest is 83 - and that it signifies how "creative writing allows us to express and communicate our culture and identity, regardless of age". The award is organised by the National Arts Council, which also runs the ongoing Singapore Writers Festival.
Civil servant Daryl Lim, 25, took the first prize in English poetry for his collection titled Histories.
LIST OF PRIZE WINNERS
1ST, ENGLISH: Teo Yi Han, for Tether
1ST, CHINESE: He Yingshu, for Fish Birth
1ST, MALAY: Mohammad Farihan Bahron, for Bintang Dua-Belas
1ST, TAMIL: Natarajan Saravanan, for Nursed With Sweet Milk...
1ST, ENGLISH: Daryl Lim, for Histories
1ST, CHINESE: Chen Yu Yan, for Grandmother Says, and other poems
1ST, MALAY: Mohammad Farihan Bahron, for Maafkan Aku, and other poems
1ST, TAMIL: Govindarajan Elangovan, for 300 Mandai Road and other poems
One of the poems he submitted imagines a scenario in which Singapore's legendary founder, Srivijayan prince Sang Nila Utama, returns to reclaim his throne.
Mr Lim, who has a master's degree in history from Cambridge University, said: "I'm interested in how we can combine history, which is factual, with the literary, which is imaginative."
The first prize for an English short story went to civil servant Teo Yi Han, 28, for her story Tether, about the life of a human-like alien.
Ms Teo, a psychology major from the National University of Singapore, said she "felt deeply" about the clinical case studies she read about in class.
"This might sound cliched, but I recently ended a relationship and the pain had to go somewhere. So I wrote a story," she added.
Author O Thiam Chin, who was one of the three judges for the English short story category, said that Ms Teo's entry stood out for its take on "what it means to be a human from an outsider's point of view, and its highly original and creative language".
Among the submissions, he noticed stories that tackled the Housing Board experience, and tales of migrant workers and transnationality.
He said: "I felt that some writers were too safe, writing from their own experiences. Sometimes, in storytelling, you have to be a risk-taker and be original. You should be able to talk about the universal, even as your story is rooted in the specific."