31 May 2011

World Conference on Diaspora Tamil Literature

Singapore will be hosting the first international conference on diaspora Tamil literature in October 2011 as part of the Singapore Writers Festival. The World Tamil Writers Conference (WTWC) will be held on 28-30 October 2011 at the Republic Polytechnic. The main theme of the conference is Diaspora Tamil Literature: New Perspectives, New Paths.

Arun Mahizhnan in his e-mail to me on 31 May 2011 explained that the conference will bring together more than 20 eminent scholars, authors and editors from about 10 countries stretching from Australia to the Unites States. Other countries include Canada, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and Singapore.

“Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore have had their own indigenous Tamil literature for more than a century. In addition, the rapid expansion of the Tamil diaspora around the world in recent decades has generated Tamil literary writings that reflect their own experiences, aspirations and anxieties which are distinct from those of the Tamil ‘homeland’, Tamil Nadu in India,” he quoted from the attached press statement.

The conference will provide an overview of the development of the Tamil literary writings across the diaspora and an analysis of their special characteristics and current trends. Some papers will focus on the impact of the diaspora literature on the societies from which they originate. There will also be a special session on the opportunities and challenges facing translation of literary works from and into Tamil. The conference will close with an assessment of the future of diaspora Tamil literature.

Announcing the conference in Singapore on 27 May 2011, ASTW President, Naa. Aandeappan, said, “The topics and speakers will reflect the rich tapestry of the diaspora and the diversity of its voices. Almost all the international Tamil literary conferences in Singapore and elsewhere have mostly focused on Tamil Nadu literature and paid little attention to what has been going on in the diaspora world and this conference is designed to address that deficit.”

In addition to paper presentation and discussions, ASTW has included cultural programmes during the three-day conference. These will showcase Singapore’s multicultural landscape and its modern and traditional art forms.

Jointly presented by ASTW and the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), WTWC is expected to attract participants from overseas as well as from Singapore.

Mr. Paul Tan, Festival Director of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), said, “The SWF is very pleased to collaborate with ASTW to co-present the World Tamil Writers Conference, a pioneering platform for the Tamil Diaspora. One of the key features that distinguish the SWF is the focus on literature written in the four national languages, and the Conference presents a wonderful opportunity for both visitors to the festival and invited authors to engage with Tamil writers, from Singapore and beyond.”

The annual Singapore Writers Festival will take place 22-30 October 2011, when a wide array of literary talents from Singapore, the region and the world will congregate on our shore to share their passion for words. The Festival is Singapore’s only national literary festival and, to date, it remains one of the few literary festivals in Asia that is multilingual, focusing on four languages: English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

The Association of Singapore Tamil Writers was formed in 1976 to cater to the interests of Tamil writers and promote Tamil Language in Singapore. The Association organises two major annual events of which one is Muthamizh Vizha (Festival of Tamil) and the other is Kannadasan Vizha (in commemoration of the great poet and lyricist).

Contests for students are held from Kindergarten to Tertiary level in conjunction with Muthamizh Vizha. A local writer or poet is presented with the Tamizhavel Award (about 4 soverigns in gold). Contests in short-story and poetry are also held for the public. The Muthamizh Vizha is one of the major events of the annual Tamil Festival held in April authorized by the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee and coordinated by Tamil Language Council.

Apart from these two major events, the Association holds a monthly poetry session called Kavi Cholai and also organises workshops for students, book launches, Patti Mandram (Debate) and dialogue sessions with visiting writers and literarians.

The National Arts Council (NAC) was established in September 1991 to spearhead the development of the arts in Singapore. To realize its vision of developing Singapore into a distinctive global city for the arts, NAC provides total support to nurture artistic talent, promotes the practice and appreciation of the arts among Singaporeans, builds up capabilities and resources, facilitates internationalisation and advocates the value of the arts. Through its holistic range of programmes and initiatives to develop the entire arts value chain, the Council champions the growth of a vibrant arts sector where the arts is accessible to all, and the community of artists, arts groups and arts businesses can innovate, excel and achieve sustainability in the long term.

Please CLICK HERE for more information and to register for the World Tamil Writers Conference. For enquiries, please contact Naa. Aandeappan, President, Association of Singapore Tamil Writers at aavanna@yahoo.com or Suba Arunachalam, Secretary, Association of Singapore Tamil Writers at sukam99@singnet.com.sg

Note: Among the speakers from Malaysia are Assoc Prof V. Sabapathy, Dr Krishanan Maniam, Mr Muthu Nedumaran, Mr S. Yuvarajan, Assoc Prof Re Karthigesu and Uthaya Sankar SB.