The Arts House presents ko ko thett

The Burden of Being Burmese 

A leading voice at the forefront of contemporary Burmese poetry, ko ko thett's first collection of English poetry The Burden of Being Burmese has been described as "a brilliantly off-kilter book" by poet John Ashbery. ko ko thett will read from his acclaimed collection, share his insights on current affairs in Myanmar and how his poetry explores the possibility of the translatability of lived experience between the personal and the political. 

This event is moderated by Alvin Pang.

Event venue: Living Room
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Event price: $5
Event start date: 2017-02-23 14:44
Event end date: 2017-02-23 14:44
Custom Event Date(s): 23 Feb 2017
Custom Event Time(s): 7.30pm
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About ko ko thett

ko ko thett is a poet by choice and Burmese by chance. The Burden of Being Burmese (Zephyr, 2015), a collection of ko ko thett's poems that have appeared in literary journals worldwide, is listed on Nota Benes by World Literature Today. After a whirlwind tour for about 20 years—including reading gigs at Sharjah International Book Fair, Hong Kong Poetry Nights, Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai and Poets House in New York City, ko ko thett will settle back in his native Burma-Myanmar in 2017. He writes in both Burmese and English, and is an honorary fellow in writing at the University of Iowa. 

About Alvin Pang

Alvin Pang is a poet, writer and editor from Singapore. He is a Fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program, an advisor to the International Poetry Studies Institute, and a founding director of The Literary Centre, Singapore. Noted in the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English, he has appeared in festivals and publications worldwide. His writings have been translated into more than twenty languages. His recent publications include Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore (Autumn Hill, USA: 2010), What Gives Us Our Names (Math Paper Press:2011), Other Things and Other Poems (Brutal, Croatia: 2012), When The Barbarians Arrive (Arc Publications,UK: 2012), UNION: 15 Years of Drunken Boat / 50 Years of Writing from Singapore (Ethos/Drunken Boat 2015), and När barbarerna kommer (Rámus Forlag, Sweden: 2015).

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World Lit featuring Gitanjali Kolanad

This World Lit session features the *2016 Singapore Creative Writing Resident, Gitanjali Kolanad.

Gitanjali turned to writing after more than 40 years as a bharata natyam dancer, teacher and choreographer. Her first short story collection, Sleeping with Movie Stars, was written using words that emulate gestures in a dance, offering an insightful and sensuous telling of a young woman’s coming-of-age experience. It is loosely inspired by her own experience of being sent to Madras in the 1970s where she studied bharata natyam.

Gitanjali will read from her published works and first novel which explores the world of hereditary dancers in the 1920s, just as a new morality was bringing their lifestyle to an end.

This session is moderated by poet Cyril Wong. 

Event venue: Living Room
Registration Link:
Event price: Free With Registration
Event duration:

1 hr 30 mins

Event start date: 2016-09-08 14:44
Event end date: 2016-09-08 14:44
Custom Event Date(s): 8 Sep 2016
Custom Event Time(s): 7.30pm
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About Gitanjali Kolanad

Gitanjali Kolanad was involved in the practice, performance, and teaching of bharata natyam for more than 40 years. She performed in major cities in Europe, America and India, including London, New York, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, New Delhi, Bombay, and Madras. Critics praised her traditional performances, while her contemporary choreographic works won new audiences for bharata natyam.

Her works were often multi-disciplinary, arising from collaborations with artists from other disciplines: director Phillip Zarrilli, video/installation artist Ray Langenbach, poet Judith Kroll and violinist Parmela Attariwala, to name a few. Her performances incorporated folk and ritual forms of dance, theatre and martial art forms from South India. She created eight major full-length dance works, many of which were performed all over the world.

Gitanjali's short story The American Girl won second prize in the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. The story is part of a collection published in 2011 by Penguin India and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award that year. Her previous book, Culture Shock: India, published by Marshall Cavendish, is now into its third edition, and has been translated into Korean. She has written numerous articles on aspects of Indian dance for well-known Indian publications, such as Open Magazine and Seminar. For two years, she contributed a column on arts and culture to the New Indian Express newspaper.

She co-founded IMPACT - Indian Martial and Performance Arts Collective of Toronto, which teaches the Indian martial art form of kalaripayat to at-risk youths in underserved neighbourhoods. Presently, she is teaching courses at the Department of Art, Design and Performing Arts while simultaneously developing a full-fledged performing arts programme at Shiv Nadar University.

About Cyril Wong

Cyril Wong is a Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet, fictionist and critic who completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. He received the Young Artist Award from the National Arts Council in 2005. His intense, complex and deeply personal poetry was featured in the 2008 W.W. Norton & Co. anthology, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, and he has been a featured poet at numerous literary festivals, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. He presently edits the poetry webjournal, SOFTBLOW.

Image of Gitanjali Kolanad courtesy of Ashoke Charles.

* The Singapore Creative Writing Residency is co-organised by The Arts House and the National University of Singapore.

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World Lit Workshops featuring Miguel Syjuco

Award-winning writer Miguel Syjuco returns to Singapore to deliver three unique and introspective writing workshops that will challenge writers to look more deeply at topics such as censorship and their own goals and legacy.

SAT, 23 APRIL, 10AM - 1PM 

While writing novels is a journey that can take many unexpected directions, every successful journey needs a roadmap. Research, character development, plotting, and all the many choices a writer initially makes (such as POV, temporal tense, tone, setting, etc) can and should be planned. Such serves as the scaffolding around the novel for it to take shape and grow in unexpected ways. This workshop will help aspiring novelists envision their work more clearly while acquainting them with the tools they will use to do write it. 

23 APRIL, 2.30PM - 5.30PM 

This workshop will look at excerpts from texts that used to be censored and discuss why they were, what their value is or was as provocative art, and how they hold up today. Participants will discuss what they could write that would get censored now, either by society or by themselves. The class will end with an exercise in which participants will write a short piece that pushes their limits, followed by workshopping each piece of work with regard to execution and the legitimacy of the message.

SUN, 24 APRIL, 2.30PM - 5.30PM 

Writers grow from knowing what they stand for, and what they want to one day accomplish. Through manifestos, participants will look forward to locate where they are as creative people; while through obituaries they will forecast whom they would like to have been. The workshop will begin with studying 150 years of manifestos to understand how the form evolved from the political to the artistic, the socially engaged to the personal or corporate -- then participants will apply themselves to making their own. Finally, fittingly, the class will also look at obituaries (that celebratory but terminal form), to write their own as a way to chart the life they would like to live while they still can.

Event venue: Council Room
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Event start date: 2016-04-23 14:44
Event end date: 2016-04-24 14:44
Custom Event Date(s): 23-24 Apr 2016
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Miguel Syjuco was born and raised in Manila. His debut novel Ilustrado was a NY Times Notable Book of 2010, as well as the winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Hugh MacLennan Prize, the Palanca Award, and the Filipino Readers' Choice Award. It has been translated into more than 16 languages. 

A journalist and freelance writer, Syjuco was recently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and the International Writer-in-Residence at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. He has a PhD in literature from the University of Adelaide, a master's degree in creative writing from Columbia University, and a bachelor's degree in English literature from the Ateneo de Manila University. 

He has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, the Walrus, the Globe & Mail, the BBC, the CBC, and many others. He currently lives in Europe and teaches at the new New York University in Abu Dhabi.

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World Lit presents Nicholson Baker

In 1999, novelist Nicholson Baker was writing a book about the history of libraries when he discovered that a singular collection of exceptionally rare 20th century newspapers was being auctioned off by the British Library. He and his wife formed a non-profit organisation, the American Newspaper Repository, dedicated to saving a unique collection of original newspapers that would otherwise be destroyed or dispersed. He managed to raise money that enabled the organisation to buy some twenty tonnes of bound newspaper volumes, including the last surviving run of Joseph Pulitzer’s revolutionary paper, The New York World. The collection is now at Duke University.

In this World Lit talk, delve deep with Baker to examine the visual riches of newspaper archives and hear his personal account of saving an irreplaceable newspaper collection at huge personal expense. 

This session will be moderated by Yeow Kai Chai, festival director of the Singapore Writers Festival.

Event venue: Living Room
Registration Link:
Event price: Free With Registration
Event duration:

1 hr

Event start date: 2016-05-12 14:44
Event end date: 2016-05-12 14:44
Custom Event Date(s): 12 May 2016
Custom Event Time(s): 7.30pm
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Nicholson Baker is the author of ten novels and five works of nonfiction, including The Mezzanine, Double Fold, Human Smoke, and The Anthologist. He has received a National Book Critics Circle award, a James Madison Freedom of Information Award, the Herman Hesse Prize, and the Katherine Anne Porter Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books.  He makes his home in Maine, USA; currently he is writer in residence at Nanyang Technological University.

Yeow Kai Chai has two poetry collections, Pretend I’m Not Here (2006) and Secret Manta (2001), which was adapted from an entry shortlisted for the 1995 Singapore Literature Prize. He was one of four authors who co-wrote The Adopted: Stories From Angkor (2015). He has covered the arts and entertainment as editor, writer and music reviewer for two decades in various newspapers and magazines, including The Straits TimesMy Paper and 8 Days. He is the festival director of the Singapore Writers Festival.

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World Lit Workshops presents Bad B!tch Poetics by Sally Wen Mao

Do you have a New Year’s resolution? How about becoming your fiercest, baddest poet self? 

Kick off the year by exploring your inner bad b!tch! In this unique workshop, Sally Wen Mao takes you on a journey to discover what it means to be a bad b!tch in the context of your creative and poetic practices – whether it is writing outside the margins or cracking open a silence that needs to speak. 
Utilising techniques of poets, singers, rappers, and other gatekeepers of pop culture, respond to exercises designed to excavate your own bad b!tch poetics, and determine what that may mean personally and aesthetically for each of you.

Participants will work on drafting forms, from manifesto to bop to ekphrasis, to generate poems, and build a dossier that reflects the poet's definition of bad bitch poetics. Examine poetry from poets such as Bhanu Kapil, Chelsey Minnis, June Jordan, Marilyn Chin, and Sonia Sanchezand. Pop music performers such as Beyonce, M.I.A, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna may also be covered.

Event venue: Council Room
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Event start date: 2016-01-09 14:44
Event end date: 2016-01-09 14:44
Custom Event Date(s): 9 Jan 2016
Custom Event Time(s): 10am - 4.30pm
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