Manuscript Bootcamp is coming back this year! More details coming soon...
Tse Hao Guang and David Wong launched their debut collections - "Deeds of Light" and "For The End Comes Reaching" at the 2015 Singapore Writers' Festival on Sat Oct 31 at 4pm. The launch was the first release by the Ten Year Series imprint of Math Paper Press, which publishes writers selected to go through the intensive Manuscript Bootcamp process. Hao Guang and David's collections were the first of six to come in the next year.
The launch had gotten a lot of attention on social media, and was one of the standout sessions of SWF, packing more than 70 people into the Gallery. Neither of them were unknowns in the scene with their active participation in SingPoWriMo and poetry.sg, as well as significant publication credits over the last few years, but even so, this was a huge turnout for two young writers launching their first collections. Once a contingent of David's adoring students arrived (late), the room swelled to standing space only. (Photo credit: Alvin Pang)
The session was moderated by me, nominally the editor of the TYS imprint, who forgot to properly explain the session was also the launch of TYS, and had to sneak it in during the questions. I didn't really need to be there as Hao Guang delivered an erudite run-through of his collection, inspiration and thematic concerns, while David kind of just went rogue and segued into a rant on strippers and sex and death and everything in between, with his mom in the room. (Photo Credit: Jon Gresham)
The twin covers by the team at Sarah and Schooling were so trippy they broke the Festival Instagram board. The simple graphic covers were inspired by the geometric patterns of classic ten-year-series assessment books, with a starkly European sans serif font distinct from the usual Math Paper Press serif text.
Both titles managed to make the Festival Bookstore's best-seller list maintained by the Select Centre, which did an excellent job running the festival bookstore in its first (and hopefully not last!) year. Their titles were up there next to far more experienced writers like the Hugo-Award-winning Ken Liu. Speaking of which, you can buy their books here and here for only $16 SGD: and yes, international friends, they deliver.
I'm going to close with my personal theory on the two collections: Deeds of Light is kind of like Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It's the classic road movie. Follow the young starry-eyed protagonist farmboy as he navigates bizarre landscapes such as Canada (Tattooine), Hong Kong (Mos Eisley) and the Philippines (Yavin), while finding The Force and accidentally destroying the Death Star! Ok, the last bit isn't really in the poetry collection but I'll just call it Deeds of Lightsabers from now on (just look at the cover!!) and move on.
Meanwhile, David's collection (For The Empire Comes Reaching) is the second of the trilogy, which would make it... The Empire Strikes Back. It deals with the life and death of a father - delves through rocky sorrow (like asteroid fields!), the swamps of despair (like Dagobah!) and religious struggle as if in a city in the clouds (like uh, Cloud City!) It even contains a poem in "twin cinema", dammit!
So in this scheme - where does Return of the Jedi come in? You'll have to wait till June-July next year to find out!
So the system kind of works! The three poets who swept the top prizes for the Golden Point Awards 2015 all have a few things in common: they participated in SingPoWriMo 2014, formed the Image-Symbol Department workshop group, went through Manuscript Bootcamp 2015, and are all going to be published under the Ten Year Series imprint (beginning with David Wong's For the End Comes Reaching which just launched.)
The Golden Point Award is Singapore's premier creative writing competition for short story and poetry in the nation's four major languages, English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Established by the National Arts Council since 1993, the national literary writing competition is a significant platform for literary excellence and launching new writers. The competition aims to identify and nurture new creative writing talent, develop the literary penmanship of writers in Singapore and to create a conducive environment for creative thinking and literary expression in Singapore. Daryl Lim's "Histories" took first prize, followed by David Wong's "Letters to Bone" and Amanda Chong's "Museum of Aborted Romance".
Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth presented them with the award on Nov 4, 2015. In his speech, he noted that "most participants have busy day jobs, but yet continue with their passion for literature", and stated that the government remained "committed to helping our writers develop their talent and skills." (In an unrelated note, Manuscript Bootcamp was supported by a grant from NAC this year, and hopes to continue this in 2016.)
Congratulations to Daryl, David, Amanda, and to all the other writers!
So, there are a bunch of different names floating around that you may or may not have heard of. SingPoWriMo, Math Remedial, ISD, BAR, MON, ICNH, Manuscript Bootcamp, Ten Year Series... Finally we decided to put it all together and explain how it works. How to build a book of poetry. We think that it begins by building a big community... then a small community... then a very very small community. And then you get a book. Or if you look at it from a different angle - perhaps it was always about community to begin with.
The name is inspired of course by: "a colloquial term used by Singaporeans, in particular students, to refer to official compilation books of examination papers in past years for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Normal Level (N-level), Ordinary Level (O-level) and Advanced Level (A-level), approved by the Ministry of Education and University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES)." (Source: Wikipedia)
We believe, somewhat tongue-in-cheekly (tonguingly-in-cheek?) that you can apply a repeatable and codifiable System (described above) to that most dynamic and untameable of forms - poetry. The name also embodies the belief that poetry should take time - even a decade if necessary. Finally, in bringing through each batch of graduands from Manuscript Bootcamp, we hope to nurture new generations of Singaporean literary talent, each supported by its own strong community.
The clean, minimalist logo is lovingly designed by the team at Sarah and Schooling. A ten-year-series is as much a book as a collection of poetry is. The cover is blank and the possibilities are infinite, as long as the book remains open. Check out the little dog-ear on the left - it's meant to evoke the tabs of a well-organised file-and-folder System... but also cheekily hint at the numerals 1 and 0!