The Arts House Resident Writer Concludes Yearlong Residency
4 October 2012 – UK poet Jay Bernard has concluded her yearlong appointment as the Resident Writer of The Arts House and NUS University Scholars Programme (USP) Creative Writing Residency. Her chapbook, English Breakfast, a collection of poetry and literary works produced during her stint, will be published and launched during the Singapore Writers Festival in November.
As part of her residency, Jay also mentored six aspiring writers at NUS. Their works will be published as well in a chapbook, The City is a Strange Song. Both books are published by local publisher Math Paper Press.
Jay says the programme has benefitted her immensely, especially in terms of providing the time and space for her to grow as a writer. “I have a better understanding of what it means to be a disciplined, full-time writer,” she says. “It's very hard. It's very easy to get distracted… The idea of being a writer feels very abstract. I can't be a writer, I think I have to do what writers do, otherwise I get anxious about a lot of other things that have nothing to do with putting words on the page. Having a year to begin dealing with that has been great.”
In addition to writing and mentoring, Jay has also been actively involved in the local writing and arts community. For instance, she staged a couple of spoken word performances at The Arts House, collaborating with locals musicians Bani Hakyal and Riduan Zalani. She worked with the quarterly literary journal Ceriph to mentor a young writer. She was invited to conduct a poetry workshop at the All In! Young Writers Media Festival. Furthermore, displaying her interdisciplinary approach and graphic art skills, she partnered five artists to mount a graphic poetry exhibition I See You at The Arts House this June.
Says Mr William Phuan, Director, The Arts House: “We are very happy with Jay’s residency, and her contributions to the local literary arts scene. The residency was set up to provide the necessary time and space for a writer to write, and also have her mentor aspiring writers in Singapore. We believe it has been a truly beneficial programme for Jay, as well as her mentees.”
Living in Singapore has been an eye-opening experience for Jay. She says, “I have a totally different approach to race, education and class. Being in South-east Asia was an eye-opener with regards to who I am in the world, how people see me, the implications of being black yet coming from the black diaspora.” Her residency has now given her “a literal heap of ideas that I will go away and work on.”
The call for applications for the next round of the Creative Writing Residency will go out in late October. Please check our website www.theartshouse.com.sg for more information.
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About Jay Bernard
Jay is the first international writer of the The Arts House and NUS USP Creative Writing Residency. London-born and Oxford-educated, she is a writer, poet and graphic artist, who has published a volume of poetry, short stories, comic strips, and graphic reviews. She has been an editor, mentor and a writer-in-residence across the UK, including being appointed the 2011 Artist-in-Residence at the Stanza Poetry Festival in St. Andrews, Scotland, as well as a former official observer for the board of the Poetry Archive.
About the Creative Writing Residency
The Arts House and National University of Singapore University Scholars Programme (NUS USP) Creative Writing Residency is created to promote creative writing in Singapore. The residency aims to provide time and opportunity for the Resident Writer to complete a written work in English, as well as stimulate new writing from among potential writers through mentorship and public programmes. The residency lasts six months, and the Resident Writer will be required to take up residence at Cinnamon College, the USP residential college at NUS. For more information, please visit
About The Arts House at The Old Parliament
Occupying the almost 200-year-old building that was Singapore's first Parliament House, The Arts House since its opening in 2004 has been offering its visitors a broad spectrum of lifestyle options, while at the same time playing an active role in the Singapore arts and creative scene. Since 2011, The Arts House has been focusing on the development of Literary Arts, while supporting and presenting programmes and festivals that aim to give a wide and multidisciplinary experience to our audiences. For more information, please visit www.theartshouse.com.sg.