The 2020 Singapore Writers Festival drew to a close just last November in its first ever digital edition, but it’s already gearing up for its 2021 edition this year. The 2020 edition saw an extraordinary 20-day line-up of over 160 programmes by more than 200 authors and presenters from Singapore and beyond. Organised by the National Arts Council (NAC), the festival brought together homegrown and international writers, thinkers, and artists in a common digital space where they connected with audiences over a shared love for stories. With conversations around this year’s theme of ‘Intimacy’, SWF 2020 was a timely exploration of what it means to connect with and draw inspiration from one another despite being apart in a time of distance.
SWF 2020 attendee, Vanessa Tan, shared: “Every year, there’s always something different which is one of the things I really enjoy about SWF. With the digital medium, we could watch the programmes whenever we wanted and I love that the online programmes have subtitles because it allows for me to rewind it, take notes, and really read what was said. The chat-only functions are also really interesting because you get to interact with mysterious strangers on the internet, but you kind of feel that you’re connecting with them so I do think the digital edition was a success.”
For now, in the lead-up to the 2021 edition, the festival may or may not continue its hybrid nature, depending on how the pandemic develops, but is already offering bookings for its outreach programme for students, teachers and the community with its Words Go Round programme in March.
Festival Director Pooja Nansi said, “The pandemic has thrown us many curveballs, and yet we saw an increasingly diverse community of festival-goers and presenters stand by us, exploring the meaning and significance of intimacy. This was an unforgettable experience for the literary community as we witnessed how SWF evolved and progressed in the digital sphere. It is clear that while the medium for the literary experience may have changed, the spirit of reading or engaging with literature has not. We sincerely thank all our partners, sponsors and friends in supporting us through our landmark first digital edition. We are excited to put together SWF 2021, using our learnings and achievements as steppingstones towards a stronger local and international literary scene.”
Singapore Writers Festival 2021 is slated to take place from 5th to 13th November 2021. SWF’s outreach programme for students, teachers and the community Words Go Round (WGR) will take place from 1st to 13th March 2021. Interested educators and organisations can head here from 11th January till 5th February 2021 for bookings.