Stories of grief and heartbreak win at the Golden Point Awards

Mrs Tamilselvi Rajarajan won first prize in the Tamil short story category of the 15th Golden Point Awards, while Ms Divya Govindarajan nabbed first prize in the English Short Story category. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF TAMILSELVI RAJARAJAN, COURTESY OF DIVYA GOVINDARAJAN

SINGAPORE - Housewife Tamilselvi Rajarajan, 52, was heartbroken when her friend, a migrant worker in Singapore, struggled with being stuck in a dormitory during the pandemic.

Her anguish became the point of departure for Window, which won first prize in the Tamil short story category of the 15th Golden Point Awards, a creative writing competition for poetry and short stories in Singapore's four official languages.

A total of 38 winners were announced at the awards ceremony held at The Arts House on Saturday (Dec 11). Ms Goh Swee Chen, chairman of the National Arts Council, gave out the prizes.

This year's competition, organised by Arts House Limited, attracted close to 2,000 entries, the highest number since its inception in 1993 by the NAC. The organising committee reported an increase in submissions across all categories. Only writers who, at the time of application, have yet to publish a solo work in the genre they are competing in are allowed to take part.

Mrs Rajarajan, a first-time winner, says: "I always had an interest in writing but never really pursued it. But as my children grew up, I had more time to write and used it as a creative outlet."

She says she would probably use her prize money to publish her writings. First-prize winners get $7,000 in cash, in addition to a certificate and trophy. There are cash prizes for the other winners.

Ms Divya Govindarajan's short story, Handwriting, nabbed first prize in the English Short Story category. Written from a third-person perspective, the narrative revolves around the things people inherit and how they help to shape their identities.

The 35 year-old supply chain professional says Handwriting is her first story. Through the pandemic, she believes that people have come to identify a sixth stage of grief in addition to denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance: meaning.

The story's protagonist processes her father's death by traversing different worlds, portrayed in the language of dreams. Along the way, she discovers meaning and how it has changed her.

Writer Clara Chow, who was on the judging panel, lauded the story as having a "graceful economy that accomplished more than some longer pieces".

Ms Govindarajan says: "This story came to me almost like a creative birth: my water broke and I must write."

She hopes to use the prize money to attend creative writing workshops and start a writing practice.

The first prize in the English Poetry category went to Mr Jerome Lim's poetic sequence - Hot Wheel Summer, I'm Still Fifteen Doing Online Career Quizzes, Breakfast At Bone Beach, Anthropogenic and Plan For Stupid Hot Days.

The first prize in the English Poetry category went to Mr Jerome Lim. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JEROME LIM

The 27 year-old literature teacher at a secondary school is also the managing editor of, an online archive of Singapore poetry and criticism.

Mr Lim says that his sequence of poems was "born out of a growing need to affirm one's capacity for compassion".

In his work, empathy is interrupted by violence, warfare and climate change, which he feels reflects the contemporary challenges of today's world.

His poems for the Golden Point Award are his first works since participating in the Melbourne Writers' Festival in 2019.He plans to use his prize money to buy presents to motivate the students in his Secondary Four class. He also hopes to contribute to literary non-profit Sing Lit Station's fund-raiser to support the local literary scene and invest in his own writing practice through poetry workshops and classes.

First Prize Winners

Short story

English: Divya Govindarajan, for Handwriting

Chinese: Lee Tong Gee, for Gone Missing

Malay: Ratna Damayanti Mohamed Taha, for Oar In Hand, Boat In Water

Tamil: Tamilselvi Rajarajan, for Window


English: Jerome Lim, for Hot Wheel Summer and other poems

Chinese: Lin Yijun, for Spawn and other poems

Malay: R. Azmann A. Rahman, for The Raving Of Tales and other poems

Tamil: Venkatalakshmi Gopalakrishnan (Banu Suresh), for Joy Of Sickness And Grief Of Recovery and other poems

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