2020 Winners' Interviews 

English Category

Find out more about our winning poets and the inspiration behind their writing and works!

Arissa Kamaruzaman

Winning Poem:

"DINNER DIARIES: beginnings + the gods of flesh and meat + joy on the rocks + pat-a-cake + after?"

(10- to 14-Year-Old Category, First Prize)

1. What is your philosophy towards your poetry works?


My philosophy towards my poetry works is to write as creatively as possible, meaning to say that I want my poetry works to cultivate imagination language-wise, form-wise and theme-wise. In cultivating imagination in my poetry works, I am able to create more novel ideas. Poetry has limitless boundaries and that is why I choose to keep on coming up with new ways of writing each poetry each time I embark on my next poem. For example, the poems I write extend across various poem types, such as free verse, echo verse and villanelles.
Sticking to this philosophy has helped me to grow as a creative writer.


2. Where do you get your inspirations from?


I always take my inspirations from everyday experiences and things that I observe around me. Reality is what impacts each and every one of us. Hence, I take reality to be my pool of inspiration, using poetry as a tool to investigate about reality. Sometimes, I am inspired to write about my personal experiences (e.g. family life) because it evokes more emotion and thought into my writing, giving me the amount of perspective that I need to write a poem that is both emotionally evocative as well as thought-provoking. I think that good poetry is
one that can find links between the real world and language and so I will continue to observe real-time issues and events for future poetry works.


3. What do you wish for people to take away from your poem?


My poem, “DINNER DIARIES”, is about listening to the life stories of our loved ones and taking that as an inspiration to forge your own path in life. In the modern day, most of us are always busy with work or school and barely spend enough time with our loved ones. Not only that, but the prevalence of digital technology, such as smartphones, has impaired our ability to interact meaningfully with our loved ones. After reading my poem, I hope that others will learn the beauty of maintaining and strengthening our relationships with family and perhaps take the next step to learn more about their family members.


4. Do you have a favourite poet/author?


I am a really indecisive person so I rarely ever stick to one ‘favourite’… However, if I have to put my thumb down on it, I would say Alfian Sa’at. Ever since I started out the SingLit Unit during Literature this year, I have become very fond of his works, especially poems from his debut, One Fierce Hour. This poetry anthology has been hailed as a landmark for Singaporean poetry and I definitely agree. The honest writing style and the richness of language that comes so naturally through his works make me feel very engaged when reading his poetry, prose and plays; SingLit truly has many amazing works in store and one should not shy away from the genre!


5. If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?


Don’t be afraid. If you keep on fearing that others will judge your writing, you will not get anywhere. It is important that you write for yourself, not for others. Whatever you wish to express in words has meaning and you need to believe that you can create meaning.

 

6. Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of writing and poetry?

 

Ever since I was young, I always imagined myself as a writer. I really do hope that I will be able to pursue writing professionally in the future, even if it isn’t my main career. I ambition to have my works published one day so that my stories can reach out to more people, across the nation, or even the world.


7. What do you wish to see more in the literary world in Singapore?


I wish to see greater appreciation for local literature. The literary scene in Singapore is already rich and vibrant, with many authors and poets that contribute material of great quality and depth. The only issue is the underappreciation of local literature amongst Singaporeans, which is a pity considering the great talent and potential found in our Singaporean writers. We need to support our writers, so that they will be able to continue writing works that help to articulate the Singaporean story.


8. Describe what a poem means/is to you.


A poem to me is space, with no dimensions, no margins, no boundaries. In such a space, I can freely build and craft worlds of my own. This world is malleable and seamless, giving me the ability to shape it at my own will. In doing so, it helps me breathe as I put my heart and soul into it. When I feel upset, poetry is an outlet to drain away my sadness. Likewise, when I feel happy, poetry is an outlet to grow my happiness. This is why poetry means so much to me.


9. How does a literary success look like to you?


A literary success is when one is able to inspire others positively through his or her works. Literature is a means to connect and share, through conveying personal messages in one’s works. When others are able to identify with your message, and build onto discussing that message, that is when a writer knows that he or she has truly been able to make an impact in the literary world.

Arissa Kamaruzaman

Winning Poem:

"DINNER DIARIES: beginnings + the gods of flesh and meat + joy on the rocks + pat-a-cake + after?"

(10- to 14-Year-Old Category, First Prize)

1. What is your philosophy towards your poetry works?


My philosophy towards my poetry works is to write as creatively as possible, meaning to say that I want my poetry works to cultivate imagination language-wise, form-wise and theme-wise. In cultivating imagination in my poetry works, I am able to create more novel ideas. Poetry has limitless boundaries and that is why I choose to keep on coming up with new ways of writing each poetry each time I embark on my next poem. For example, the poems I write extend across various poem types, such as free verse, echo verse and villanelles.
Sticking to this philosophy has helped me to grow as a creative writer.


2. Where do you get your inspirations from?


I always take my inspirations from everyday experiences and things that I observe around me. Reality is what impacts each and every one of us. Hence, I take reality to be my pool of inspiration, using poetry as a tool to investigate about reality. Sometimes, I am inspired to write about my personal experiences (e.g. family life) because it evokes more emotion and thought into my writing, giving me the amount of perspective that I need to write a poem that is both emotionally evocative as well as thought-provoking. I think that good poetry is
one that can find links between the real world and language and so I will continue to observe real-time issues and events for future poetry works.


3. What do you wish for people to take away from your poem?


My poem, “DINNER DIARIES”, is about listening to the life stories of our loved ones and taking that as an inspiration to forge your own path in life. In the modern day, most of us are always busy with work or school and barely spend enough time with our loved ones. Not only that, but the prevalence of digital technology, such as smartphones, has impaired our ability to interact meaningfully with our loved ones. After reading my poem, I hope that others will learn the beauty of maintaining and strengthening our relationships with family and perhaps take the next step to learn more about their family members.


4. Do you have a favourite poet/author?


I am a really indecisive person so I rarely ever stick to one ‘favourite’… However, if I have to put my thumb down on it, I would say Alfian Sa’at. Ever since I started out the SingLit Unit during Literature this year, I have become very fond of his works, especially poems from his debut, One Fierce Hour. This poetry anthology has been hailed as a landmark for Singaporean poetry and I definitely agree. The honest writing style and the richness of language that comes so naturally through his works make me feel very engaged when reading his poetry, prose and plays; SingLit truly has many amazing works in store and one should not shy away from the genre!


5. If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?


Don’t be afraid. If you keep on fearing that others will judge your writing, you will not get anywhere. It is important that you write for yourself, not for others. Whatever you wish to express in words has meaning and you need to believe that you can create meaning.

 

6. Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of writing and poetry?

 

Ever since I was young, I always imagined myself as a writer. I really do hope that I will be able to pursue writing professionally in the future, even if it isn’t my main career. I ambition to have my works published one day so that my stories can reach out to more people, across the nation, or even the world.


7. What do you wish to see more in the literary world in Singapore?


I wish to see greater appreciation for local literature. The literary scene in Singapore is already rich and vibrant, with many authors and poets that contribute material of great quality and depth. The only issue is the underappreciation of local literature amongst Singaporeans, which is a pity considering the great talent and potential found in our Singaporean writers. We need to support our writers, so that they will be able to continue writing works that help to articulate the Singaporean story.


8. Describe what a poem means/is to you.


A poem to me is space, with no dimensions, no margins, no boundaries. In such a space, I can freely build and craft worlds of my own. This world is malleable and seamless, giving me the ability to shape it at my own will. In doing so, it helps me breathe as I put my heart and soul into it. When I feel upset, poetry is an outlet to drain away my sadness. Likewise, when I feel happy, poetry is an outlet to grow my happiness. This is why poetry means so much to me.


9. How does a literary success look like to you?


A literary success is when one is able to inspire others positively through his or her works. Literature is a means to connect and share, through conveying personal messages in one’s works. When others are able to identify with your message, and build onto discussing that message, that is when a writer knows that he or she has truly been able to make an impact in the literary world.

Arissa Kamaruzaman

Winning Poem:

"DINNER DIARIES: beginnings + the gods of flesh and meat + joy on the rocks + pat-a-cake + after?"

(10- to 14-Year-Old Category, First Prize)

1. What is your philosophy towards your poetry works?


My philosophy towards my poetry works is to write as creatively as possible, meaning to say that I want my poetry works to cultivate imagination language-wise, form-wise and theme-wise. In cultivating imagination in my poetry works, I am able to create more novel ideas. Poetry has limitless boundaries and that is why I choose to keep on coming up with new ways of writing each poetry each time I embark on my next poem. For example, the poems I write extend across various poem types, such as free verse, echo verse and villanelles.
Sticking to this philosophy has helped me to grow as a creative writer.


2. Where do you get your inspirations from?


I always take my inspirations from everyday experiences and things that I observe around me. Reality is what impacts each and every one of us. Hence, I take reality to be my pool of inspiration, using poetry as a tool to investigate about reality. Sometimes, I am inspired to write about my personal experiences (e.g. family life) because it evokes more emotion and thought into my writing, giving me the amount of perspective that I need to write a poem that is both emotionally evocative as well as thought-provoking. I think that good poetry is
one that can find links between the real world and language and so I will continue to observe real-time issues and events for future poetry works.


3. What do you wish for people to take away from your poem?


My poem, “DINNER DIARIES”, is about listening to the life stories of our loved ones and taking that as an inspiration to forge your own path in life. In the modern day, most of us are always busy with work or school and barely spend enough time with our loved ones. Not only that, but the prevalence of digital technology, such as smartphones, has impaired our ability to interact meaningfully with our loved ones. After reading my poem, I hope that others will learn the beauty of maintaining and strengthening our relationships with family and perhaps take the next step to learn more about their family members.


4. Do you have a favourite poet/author?


I am a really indecisive person so I rarely ever stick to one ‘favourite’… However, if I have to put my thumb down on it, I would say Alfian Sa’at. Ever since I started out the SingLit Unit during Literature this year, I have become very fond of his works, especially poems from his debut, One Fierce Hour. This poetry anthology has been hailed as a landmark for Singaporean poetry and I definitely agree. The honest writing style and the richness of language that comes so naturally through his works make me feel very engaged when reading his poetry, prose and plays; SingLit truly has many amazing works in store and one should not shy away from the genre!


5. If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?


Don’t be afraid. If you keep on fearing that others will judge your writing, you will not get anywhere. It is important that you write for yourself, not for others. Whatever you wish to express in words has meaning and you need to believe that you can create meaning.

 

6. Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of writing and poetry?

 

Ever since I was young, I always imagined myself as a writer. I really do hope that I will be able to pursue writing professionally in the future, even if it isn’t my main career. I ambition to have my works published one day so that my stories can reach out to more people, across the nation, or even the world.


7. What do you wish to see more in the literary world in Singapore?


I wish to see greater appreciation for local literature. The literary scene in Singapore is already rich and vibrant, with many authors and poets that contribute material of great quality and depth. The only issue is the underappreciation of local literature amongst Singaporeans, which is a pity considering the great talent and potential found in our Singaporean writers. We need to support our writers, so that they will be able to continue writing works that help to articulate the Singaporean story.


8. Describe what a poem means/is to you.


A poem to me is space, with no dimensions, no margins, no boundaries. In such a space, I can freely build and craft worlds of my own. This world is malleable and seamless, giving me the ability to shape it at my own will. In doing so, it helps me breathe as I put my heart and soul into it. When I feel upset, poetry is an outlet to drain away my sadness. Likewise, when I feel happy, poetry is an outlet to grow my happiness. This is why poetry means so much to me.


9. How does a literary success look like to you?


A literary success is when one is able to inspire others positively through his or her works. Literature is a means to connect and share, through conveying personal messages in one’s works. When others are able to identify with your message, and build onto discussing that message, that is when a writer knows that he or she has truly been able to make an impact in the literary world.