Participant Feedback from APWT 2014
What people said about APWT's conference in Singapore, July 2014. Click on the names to see their blogs. Our 2015 conference is 22-25 October in Manila, Philippines.
Lisa Walker (Australia)
Vanessa Deza Hangad (Singapore)
Damayanti Ghosh (India)
Christine Williams (Australia)
‘I’ve never enjoyed a conference so much! Just loved the non-academic, non-competitive humanities approach that encouraged stimulating questions and a supportive atmosphere. Some of the magic was in the keynote speakers’ presentations ... but a whole lot was in the mix of the masses that must have come from the effort you put into months & months of organisation.’
Phino So (Cambodia)
Linda Jaivin (Australia). 'The conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet other writers and translators working in the region, encounter ideas and writing (and ideas about writing) that were fresh and stimulating, and make both new friends and useful contacts. There is at least one potential residency that may come out of this event for me, which is terrific. Jane Camens ran the event beautifully, the Arts House was an ideal venue, the catering was amazing and it was fun too.'
Sarah Tooth (Director of the South Australian Writers Centre, member of the national network of Australian writers' centres, and member of the Adelaide Writers Week advisory committee.)
'While not the first writers’ conference I have attended, it was far and beyond the most exciting gathering of its kind I have been to, and one of the most useful professional development activities I have undertaken in many years.
The panel sessions were extremely interesting – featuring an diverse range of writers addressing industry and craft topics: writing fiction, poetry and non-fiction, translation and translatability, how do writers earn a living, what does the changing literary landscape mean for writers globally, the politics and economics of writing, genres, markets, marketing and more. The professional information that I gained from these sessions from a global perspective was highly valuable for me.
The daily readings were some of the most extraordinary I’ve ever attended – with a breath and range of voices from emerging to well established voices, those written in English and those in translation, non fiction, poetry, short stories, fiction. These readings introduced me to so many exciting new writers from India, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and more, names that I will be taking back to SA with me for future invitations and collaborations.
Set against the backdrop of the National Library of Singapore’s decision to withdraw and pulp several children’s books depicting non tradition, same sex families, elevated the crucial debates raging around censorship (both externally and self-imposed), long a focal point for writers in our region, but rarely addressed in Australia. At a time when issues of what we can write and read about are becoming increasing important in Australia as well, these conversations between writers from around the region are incredibly important and would be very difficult to maintain without this brilliant organisation.
The real highlight to me was the spirit of the conference. Never have I attended a gathering that was so incredibly collegiate – egos were set aside and writers talked and shared intensely. Real international networks are being built – writers rushed to buy each other’s books, attend each other’s workshops and sessions, listened intently to the readings, engaged really deeply with each other’s work. On a professional level, the presence of so many industry representatives – from agents to literary journals and publishers – meant that deals were also done, and new markets opened up for writers. The conference is an incredible opportunity for writers to build a profile in the region.
I also made good connections with The Singapore Arts Council, as well as the National Book Development Council staff, building the potential for increased institutional as well as writerly links.
APWT is a brilliant organisation with an exciting future. That they deliver this program without any paid staff is an extraordinary achievement. I strongly urge Australian writers, funders, governments, literary groups and industry organisations to support this endeavour. I am so impressed with the conference it will now sit on the top of my wishlist of events to attend each year. I very much hope to be at the 2015 conference in Manila – a country with deep and strong literary traditions that Australians should be a part of.' - Sarah Tooth
Merlinda Bobis (Australia) 'The ‘multiplication’ of the conference outcomes is different for each of us. For me, it is immediately concrete in new projects and partnerships. Before the conference closes, I move to Nanyang Technological University to workshop an Intercultural Waters Teaching-Learning Project in collaboration with other conference delegates, among them Jennifer Crawford (Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University), Dinah Roma and Shirley Lua (both teaching at (De La Salle University, Manila). Now, six universities from four countries will facilitate a space for the next generation of writers to imagine water creatively and critically across cultures. Then, Francesca Rendle-Short (RMIT) and I hatch a future creative writing partnership. Dai Fan (Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou) and I dream up creative writing collaborating with performance towards creative literacy. Mridula Nath Chakraborty (University of Western Sydney) and I conjure a book of critical essays. And lest I forget, with the passing on of story, friendships multiply across the Asia-Pacific and beyond.'
Tony Birch (Australia). 'I was fortunate to be invited to the gathering in Singapore this year. Obviously it gave me the opportunity to showcase my own writing and establish relationships not only with other writers from Australia, but more particularly with writers, readers and teachers from Asia. Through the creative writing workshop I conducted I met with key teachers of writing from India, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries. The cultural exchange provided me with an invaluable insight into the literary community in those countries. I left the conference with the termination to continue and grow those relationships. I was also involved in several readings and sessions showcasing the work of individual writers. These sessions were not only stimulating and entertaining, but also educational. To be exposed to younger voices from the Asia region collapses stereotypes that we sometimes harbour. Finally the organisation of the gathering was superb, ensuring that each of us meeting in Singapore felt that we were warmly welcomed into a community gathering.'
'I was fortunate to be invited to the Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Singapore conference in July this year. As Associate Publisher at Griffith REVIEW I was invited to launch our forthcoming edition New Asia and encourage participants to invite their networks to submit. New Asia will be published in association with Asia Literary Review and the conference enabled me to meet the editor of ALR and develop a publication strategy. I also participated in a panel discussion about publishing and promotion in Australia, and was interested to note the similarities in the concerns of emerging writers around the world. I attended as many sessions at the conference as possible and learned a great deal about issues engaging writers in the region. My participation in the conference allowed me to establish invaluable relationships with people influential in the literary community in the Asian region – from writers to agents, publishers to academics. Moving forward we have had an extraordinary response from the contacts I made at the festival for New Asia – from poetry circles in Thailand to the agent of India’s most popular author. The organisation of the conference was exceptional, and the food deserves a special mention.' - Susan Hornbeck
'APWT Singapore was a wonderful way of meeting the writers, publishers, translators and bloggers in Asia who I would have never come across through my other routine networks. It provided a platform to congregate as readers and intellectuals who are interested in this amazing conglomeration of regions and cultures and traditions that is Asia: to have them represented in the same room was a highlight! I was particularly happy to be introduced to the emerging voices around Asia. My happiness would have been complete if I had had the chance to have heard more voices in Asian languages themselves: given that we had translators present there already, it would have been great to have got the flavour of the original language, and then the English, which no doubt has become the global lingua franca. Unfortunately and paradoxically, the reliance on English also means that emerging forms and innovations that are taking place in Asian writing are lost to us, unless someone translates them into English! As we know, the fight to preserve and proliferate writing in the regional languages has acquired tremendous urgency all over Asia. So in the spirit of more engaged gatherings in future APWT events, I would suggest that we invite and involve more Asian writers who write in their original languages, and then mesh in translators, not only from English, but from the other languages represented there, who might then take up the writing for further translation. This would be great way for APWT to foster new writing as well as translations in multiple languages in the region. May the good work continue!' - Mridula Nath Chakraborty
‘Many thanks, Jane, for the whole enchilada. I help set up small conferences (max 60) in NY; I know how difficult and labor intensive it is to get off even a bad conference, and this was so, so good. Kudos to you and all who helped’. - Tim Tomlinson (New York, USA)
‘Had an awesome time at Singapore. Would love to do this again with many more authors. ‘- Anuj Bahri, Red Ink Literary Agency / author representation (India)
‘I thoroughly enjoyed it and was challenged at every session I attended. It was a wonderful networking opportunity. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the more informal evening sessions when shoes were kicked off and songbirds were about. Congratulations and a Big Thank You from the bottom of my heart. Look forward to more opportunities to gather and be extended.’ Christine Choo (Australia)
‘It was truly a great experience for me, the book launch was fantastic.’
Bridget Eu Yoke Lin (Malaysia)
‘The conference was very useful in a professional-ASA sense to me, giving me some hints as to what more we might be able to do out of this organisation. With my writer's hat on, the questions of cross-cultural literary work, bringing 'unheard' or marginal characters into stories and novels, etc, have always been my main literary interests and orientation - as I hope my fiction shows. In that regard the conference brought little 'news' for me in a personal, artistic sense. It did, however, reinforce how important it is for all writers to develop such an outlook today, if they don't already have one, and how cultural agencies (and firstly governments!) have to revive or reinvigorate notions of multiculturalism and 'mixed' identity in what they support. We don't live in a white male middle class world anymore, but one where English has at its best become a lingua franca running through a thousand streams of 'different' creativity. And where 'English literature' is an outdated concept, replaced by 'Literature in English'. Ours is a world of shifting populations and cultural clashing, or blending, on a grand scale’. -- Angelo Loukakis Executive Director, Australian Society of Authors. (Australia)
'I’m truly glad I decided to attend this multicultural feast from writers of outstanding works from all over the region. I particularly enjoyed the keynote addresses of Suchen Christine Lim, Merlinda Bobis and Linda Jaivin. It was not possible to attend all the enticing Roundtable discussions, readings, book launches and other events, some of which ran concurrently. Those I did attend gave rise to questions and insights about one’s own writing theories and practice. I enjoyed reading a short extract from The Chandrasekhar Limit and Other Stories together with 3 poems from Flaubert’s Drum and was thrilled to receive commendations for my reading immediately after and the next day!' Sugu Pillay ( New Zealand)
‘This is a really worthwhile association to belong to and the annual get-togethers are excellent, highly recommended. … It was the best yet!’ – Andrew Bond (Thailand)
'My association with APWT gave me my first international platform in which to share my work. The conference in Singapore provided me with opportunities to meet writers, translators, agents, and publishers from around the world, and my knowledge and understanding of the Asian literary market was greatly enhanced. It was also really lovely to be exposed to different works from around Asia, particularly in the readings sessions, and get a taste for the diversity of writing that is occurring. All in all it was a very valuable cultural exchange.' - Jessie Cole (Australia)
‘i hope to be there next yr in manila....’ Kirpal Singh (Singapore)