With over 150 speakers from 31 countries, this year’s UWRF lineup is a literary treasure trove of discoveries. Each week in the lead up to the Festival, we’ll speak to a writer whose work you may not yet have encountered, but who could well turn out to be your new Festival favorite. For the second installment, we spoke to poet and photographer Marc Nair, recipient of the Singapore National Arts Council 2016 Young Artist Award and Co-founder of culture magazine Mackerel.
What issues and ideas are you hoping to explore during your UWRF17 sessions?
I’m interested in multi-disciplinary work that revolves around poetry. My areas of interest include the process and production of ekphrasis and the use of voice in poetry. I’m also constantly searching for that sweet spot in producing honest, creative expressions of poetic experience as a traveler.
Who do you hope will be in the audience?
Potential collaborators, new readers and artists from various disciplines. I always enjoy performing for new audiences, it’s very invigorating. I also hope there is some interest from publishers to translate Singapore poetry into other languages.
What’s the most extraordinary place your career has taken you?
Possibly to Reunion Island in 2008 to perform in the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. When I arrived, the customs officer didn’t know where Singapore was and was tickled that I had come to be part of a poetry competition. He made me recite a poem before he stamped my passport! Reunion itself was a heady mix of adventure sports, rum and poetry. Very potent.
The strangest platform was the World Poetry Slam in Paris. I was forced to perform in Malay, my second language, because the organisers didn’t recognise English as my national language. They insisted that only the UK and the USA has English as its first language!
What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve received, and what’s the best you can give?
“We can, indeed, only write what we know. It is logically and philosophically impossible to do otherwise. But if we write towards what we don’t supposedly know, we will find out what we knew but weren’t yet entirely aware of.” – Colum McCann
Poetry is a vitamin pill you should pop daily. A poem a day keeps you healthy, but there’s no harm in occasionally overdosing!
What are you most looking forward to at UWRF17?
Meeting and learning from fellow writers. Listening to poets read their work. Finding out who are the up and coming writers from Indonesia. I’m also looking forward to the Poetry Slam. I hear it is never short of sizzle! Above all, receiving the equivalent of a literary massage amidst the lushness of Ubud.
Marc Nair is appearing in Half a Century of ASEAN on Day 3 of the Main Program, and be sure not to miss him at the Poetry Slam at Betelnut.