(Photo credits: Elliot Wong)
Every April, writers/poets/enthusiasts from all walks of Singapore come together on Facebook to complete the seemingly impossible task: write a poem everyday for a whole month, with accordance to the daily prompts.
First started in 2014 by poets Joshua Ip, Alvin Pang and Pooja Nansi, the Singapore Poetry Writing Month (SingPoWriMo) happens every April on a Facebook group of over 2,600 members. This Facebook movement delved into all the luxury that Singapore once could not afford, churning 300-400 poems a day; from poems about seducing your parents, to grand artistic statements, and even those in indigenous forms such as ASINGBOL and the traditional, long-lost form of udaiyaathathu. Managed by a team of moderators, SingPoWriMo has reached its third year and it features not only some of Singapore’s best poets like Alfian Sa’at, Marc Nair and Ng Yi-Sheng, but also up and coming poets as well as writers new to poetry. At the end of each SingPoWriMo, an anthology of featured poems from the month will be published by local publisher Math Paper Press where the fleeting digital words of April will be immortalised in ink. Do check out the 2014 and 2015 anthologies too!
SingPoWriMo was even featured on both mainstream and alternative media, packing a punch above its weight. It even showcased an interactive MRT map with a poem for every station as part of Day 24’s prompt:
Here’s a small taste of SingPoWriMo, written by Yale-NUS College student Min Lim on Day 6:
Your Comic Sans smile does not
scream ‘approachable’. I will slant away
like Arial, italicized. Especially if
the Helvetica in you decides we are similar.
The month of April spelt buzzing phones, notifications galore, prompt alerts, bonus spam and tons of chain poetry. I have been an active participant in SingPoWriMo for the past two years, and this experience taught me more than what literature lessons in Secondary 2 can ever impart. It takes heart to be open with the world and write what we feel deeply inside, let alone sharing it with strangers hiding behind Facebook profile pictures. Yet it is here where I learnt how to write a haiku (finally), keep my creative juices flowing, and find solace in poetry with so many like-minded individuals. During the Closing Party for SingPoWriMo at local bookshop Books Actually, I’ve met so many passionate souls where we all stand (in poetic unity), while discovering that strength can be found in numbers.
Like most of my fellow writers on the group, I am not a professional poet who generate tons and tons of artistic pieces from a never ending river of inspiration. In fact, even the best of us don’t have that kind of inspiration to keep writing everyday. Heck, I didn’t even take literature in JC or university. My love for poetry was cultivated by a passion to express myself, in bits and pieces of words that goes beyond the literal and into the subjective. No one taught me how to write a poem. It crept slowly, gently and sweetly into my life, from Tumblr posts to poetry slams and finally here with the SingPoWriMo family. In one strange way or another, poetry found its way to me, shaping my words into 5-7-5 syllables, 140-characters or in free verse whenever my mood sees it to be fit. Poetry is the language that we speak when mere sentences cannot paint the worlds that we seek to exhale.
This year, I have finally completed all thirty poems (as compared to twenty-eight in 2015) despite meeting with the unfortunate circumstances of final examinations on the same month. I’d started this month worrying about finals and being able to participate actively in the group, yet here I am with thirty poems under my belt and summer abound. Here’s to 11 months of not writing anything resembling poetry, and to next April where my poetic muses reunite once again.