Singapore Writers Festival kicks off today: Words, music and dreams

Events to catch at the festival, which kicks off today

This year's Singapore Writers Festival looks beyond a line-up of lectures and discussion panels to celebrating text as performance.

So along with former Man Booker nominee Deborah Levy talking about dreams and desires, or activist Goenawan Mohamad sharing his experiences as a writer in Indonesia, there are collaborations between writers and musicians that end in a concert, or piano and drama performances in a 12-hour showcase of music, visual arts, drama and other works inspired by text.

Here are some of the highlights of the festival which opens today and ends on Nov 8.

ASIAN SPECULATIVE FICTION: HAS OUR TIME ARRIVED?

Thai-American writer Somtow Sucharitkul changed his name to S.P. Somtow to sell his first novel, Vampire Junction (1984), while Chinese-American author Ken Liu's name dominates reviews of this year's fantasy, thanks to the success of his novel The Grace Of Kings. They share their thoughts on the rise of Asian writers in this genre.

Where: The Japan Foundation Play Den, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane

When: Tomorrow, 2.30pm

Admission: $20 Festival Pass from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

WHEN MEANING IS MANAGED: THE FATE OF LITERATURE

Goenawan Mohamad is a noted Indonesian poet and journalist who wrote critically of the Suharto regime. In this session, conducted in English, he discusses the challenges of free expression in his country.

Where: Chamber, The Arts House

When: 4pm tomorrow

Admission: $15 from Sistic

WHAT DREAMS REVEAL ABOUT OUR SECRETS AND DESIRES

A noted writer of plays and fiction, Deborah Levy reads from her taut novel about madness and sanity, Swimming Home (2011, shortlisted for 2012 Man Booker Prize), and the equally chilling and fascinating short story collection Black Vodka (2013).

Where: Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place

When: Sunday, 4pm

Admission: $20 from Sistic

DIMENSIONS & DEMONS

Among the new experiments of this year's festival was to put writers and musicians together to create new music: Stephanie Ye with Ferry, Dave Chua with Weish and Daren Shiau with Riot !n Magenta. Co-presented with Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Where: Esplanade Recital Studio

When: Nov 5, 8pm

Admission: $25 from Sistic

CRIME AND MISDEMEANOURS

Writers share their favourite readings, tales or anecdotes on the theme of "crime and misdemeanours". Featuring Singapore's Felix Cheong, British thriller writer Sophie Hannah, Hong Kong short story writer Jason Y. Ng, American poet and fiction writer Thaddeus Rutkowski and Norwegian author and Sherlock Holmes expert Nils Nordberg.

Where: British Council Gallery, The Arts House

When: Nov 7, 10am

Admission: Free

CLOSING DEBATE: THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT SINGAPOREANS ARE NOT DREAMERS

The closing debate of the Singapore Writers Festival is usually a laugh riot as debaters defend or attack the theme with pointed wit.

This year's speakers include radio DJ Vernetta Lopez, YouTube star Hirzi Zulkiflie, poet Joshua Ip, writer-musician-actor Deborah Emmanuel, crime fiction writer Shamini Flint, drama lecturer Oniatta Effendi, humour writer Adrian Tan and poet-critic-graphic novelist Gwee Li Sui.

Where: Chamber, The Arts House

When: Nov 8, 7pm

Admission: Free

•The Straits Times is the official media partner of the Singapore Writers Festival. For more stories on the festival, go to www.straitstimes.com/tags/singapore-writers- festival-2015

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore Writers Festival Words, music and dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe