#BuySingLit movement rebrands to get S'poreans to Read Our World

Literary movement #BuySingLit will be rebranded as Sing Lit: Read Our World. PHOTO: SING LIT: READ OUR WORLD

SINGAPORE - For the past five years, literary movement #BuySingLit has striven to get Singaporeans to support local literature by, well, buying it.

Moving forward, however, this will no longer be the case. The industry-led movement, which was started in 2017, will be rebranded as Sing Lit: Read Our World.

Ms Chong Lingying of home-grown publisher Asiapac Books said ahead of a media preview on Thursday (Dec 9) that the movement is attempting to grow past regarding Singapore literature as individual books.

Rather, it is a whole ecosystem of creators, authors and readers, said Ms Chong, 31, who is part of the movement's marketing module.

She added that they are also open to other forms of literature, for example, visual forms which feature text and audio.

Instead of running a two-weekend literary festival in March every year, as it did previously, the movement is now a year-round effort striving to bring Singapore literature to audiences on a regular basis.

This transition came about after Covid-19 put a halt to in-person activities, which left the movement in "survival mode", said Ms Chong. Its last physical event was at the Pasir Panjang Power Station in March last year, before the circuit breaker period.

Singapore Book Council executive director William Phuan, 49, who is also on the movement's steering committee, said: "With this year-round shift, the Sing Lit movement aims to make reading, supporting and buying local books an everyday occurrence."

Nonetheless, key events such as the Singapore Literary Book Bazaar, which has been held at The Arts House annually since March 2017, will continue. Its fifth edition is slated for March next year.

Other programmes and events will be spread out across the year.

Highlights include My Sing Lit, which aims to move away from the common misconception that Singapore literature is written only in English, and promote mother-tongue works.

Its Malay programmes will take place from March 11 to 13 next year, while the Tamil programmes will be on April 16.

Asiapac Books's Chong Lingying said the movement is attempting to grow past regarding Singapore literature as individual books. PHOTO: SING LIT: READ OUR WORLD

Sing Lit Blk Party, a one-day hybrid festival in February next year, will be a celebration of Singapore literature with panel discussions, virtual performances, multidisciplinary explorations and commercial tie-ups.

The movement is also looking to tap the potential of social media and has started both Telegram and YouTube channels. These platforms, alongside its existing Facebook and Instagram pages, will feature year-round content to educate and inform audiences about Singapore literature.

Poet Charlene Shepherdson, 37, who works at literary non-profit Sing Lit Station, said: "The initiative brings together people from all corners of the Sing Lit ecosystem - the writers, publishers, translators, illustrators, editors, readers and more - building a sustainable community that will keep Singapore literature going through these uncertain times."

Poet Charlene Shepherdson, who works at literary non-profit Sing Lit Station. PHOTO: SING LIT: READ OUR WORLD

#BuySingLit, like much of the local literary community, was caught in the fallout from an expose in September this year about Mr Kenny Leck, co-founder of independent bookstore BooksActually.

Mr Leck, who previously helmed #BuySingLit as co-chair, came under fire for his alleged past relationships with his young female employees.

The Sing Lit: Read Our World committee said the movement is not directly involved with BooksActually at present, though it remains open to working together with the bookstore in the future, after it has rectified any internal issues and is able to foster a safe environment for its employees.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article reported that Ms Chong said Sing Lit is a whole ecosystem of curators, authors and readers. What she actually said is that it is a whole ecosystem of creators, authors and readers.

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