SingPoWriMo 2014: Anthology

Singapore Poetry Writing Month or SingPoWriMo is a curious phenomenon in the literary scene: it started out in the virtual world (a Facebook group set up in April), where members/poets of every stripe, young and old, veterans and emerging were challenged to respond to daily prompts during the "cruel month of April" aka Poetry Month. Many of the prompts were deeply challenging: Day 1 for example involved the use of 6 words including debauched, trade, exclusive, Day 4 encouraged the use of one-syllable poems, Day 16 was the writing in a different language and dialect, and so on. Clearly these kept the poets engaged as new poems cropped up everyday in response to the prompts. By the end of the month, the group eventually grew to more than 450 members, collectively producing hundreds of poems. 

Apart from the sharing of poems, there was too a lively exchange of thoughts on the site - many members were actively engaged, going beyond mere "liking", and responding to or expounding on existing thoughts; it was not unusual to see a long trail of comments in reaction to the more thought provoking entries.  It was truly an impressive forum and though it was all done virtually/online, I could almost feel the site bursting with so much energy! Before SingPoWriMo, I never thought that there is a huge community of poets, and active at that, in Singapore. That previous notion was completely dispelled in April when I saw the community live in virtual action...

And again this afternoon at the Arts House during the launch of the print version (a collection of the best poems) - the Living room was packed with poets and poetry aficionados who came to listen to the "new voices" of Singapore, i.e., when the best of the poems produced in the virtual world came into our real world. The readers too did not disappoint, with a couple of them reading like stage thespians.

The wonderful event in April was initiated by Alvin Pang with the three editors of the anthology: Ann Ang, Joshua Ip, and Pooja Nansi (more details of this in the book's introduction). When it started, there did not seem to be a plan to produce an anthology of the best pieces, and so I too contributed without any expectation of my piece being published afterward - I joined for plain fun and to be part of a community of poets. I was then pleasantly surprised when Joshua Ip announced the plan for publication a couple of months later; he subsequently set up a crowdsourcing campaign (a successful one too!) - that along with support from the National Arts Council eventually led to the book's publication (as I understand Math Paper Press was also committed to publish this at the outset but then the crowdsourcing came along, which freed up Math Paper to support other worthy literary endeavours) .  Altogether, the editors put in a lot of efforts for this unique anthology (the selection process alone sounded like a true killer as they had to wade through hundreds of poems, and at some point they admitted to "fighting" each other, at least virtually, before arriving at a consensus of which poems made the cut), and so I am in total awe of their dedication to the arts in general and this effort in particular. Kudos to the team!

My poem Wishbone, included in the book, is a response to the Day 23 prompt about colours and nature. I did want to contribute more but I was traveling most of April (it wasn't that cruel) that I also missed much of the excitement. Gauging by the response at the launch, it looks like SingPoWriMo 2015 will be even bigger!  I hope to contribute more when the time comes. Can't wait :-)

Published by Math Paper Press, the book is available at Books Actually (my favourite bookstore :-).  It's also available in e-book, you can check the Books Actually website if interested.

#SingPoWriMo 

Launch at The Arts House

First conceived in the virtual world (a group on Facebook), the best of the collection is now in the real world via this hard copy
#SingPoWriMo #SingPoWriMo2014 #SingaporePoetry

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