The "Write and Burn!" Challenge 2022: Give voice to your words
Congratulations to our winners of Write and Burn! 2022!
First prize: "Perhaps this is goodbye" by Yew Huixin, Charlotte (ACSI)
Second prize: "bury your bruises" by Chia Kei Yin (RGS)
Third prize: "Lilies of Bone" by Maya Bosson (United World College SEA)
Perhaps this is goodbye
by Yew Huixin, Charlotte
Perhaps this is goodbye
Libraries always seem to remind me
Of you, old friend, and how
You could never comprehend
How bookstores were any different
Let alone better, for that matter. In retrospect
Ironic, really, for someone who took so much
And gave so little. Perhaps that
Was my first mistake.
For someone who never bothered with
Semantics, your lexicon of adoration
Never failed to draw me into dedication
Rife with desperation, shaky declarations.
Someday was one of our favourite words
Along with should and could and would.
And maybe. Perhaps that
Was your downfall.
Bestseller lists would have nothing on us
Genre-defying lot. What felt like a fantasy
Turned unsolved mystery, tragedy, comedy.
Took on past tense, a recipe for shattered
Souls and crushed consciences illustrated
In the innocent pastel of blurred chalk
And grainy crayon. Perhaps that
Was our undoing.
Like a collection of short stories, typewritten
Words etched onto crisp ivory pages
Ours never made it to the end of the plot
But I’ll remember the pages you were on and
Perhaps one day, sometime somewhere
Someplace, reread without hesitation
The chapters you graced. But it wouldn’t matter
Even if you read it backwards, because
It started the way it ended; two strangers,
Whispered words and second glances.
Well then, I guess this is goodbye.
bury your bruises
by Chia Kei Yin
calloused knees scrape against rough pavement
as aching bones watch the sunset blossom
the end of an age unfolds before stinging eyes, its skies
streaked in smeared hues of bruised blues
Roses drip in red
Bloody sunsets of scarlet
seeing the world at its knees, steps stumble into a steep fall.
the sky seems to rip itself apart with each sunrise,
patching up the silence
of the night with raw watery greys
Living walking dead.
Just hollow husks, shallow shells
Peeling and burlesque
while trudging along the well-wrought road, the
violent flames of destination lick against your
yearning fingertips, leaving them charred and for the dead.
shattered dreams line the streets with no one to bury them; because
naivety is paid in wages of headaches and heartbreak
Fiction, bred and fed,
Only bring us false glories.
Dreams are dressed
Lace sprayed with mace
when time and tide wait for none, the race must continue on
when the weight of the skies falls on you, its burdens shred your muscles to fibres
when tension thickens, what little oxygen left in your lungs is beaten right from you
when you’re down to your last ragged breath, how do you gasp for more—
at least the dead can sleep in a war.
Lilies of Bone
by Maya Bosson
I’m sorry that I haven’t returned in a while
The weeds have flourished
obscuring your name, engraved into the stone
Wilted lilies hunch placidly and cast shadows in the dying sunset
Petals withered brown from months without replacement
They were your favourite
I’m sorry - they are your favourite
The thought is a regular reoccurrence
That all the humane things about you were confined to your body
The touch of your callused hands
The chestnut of your iris
Cobwebs of veins and arteries, intricately designed
Now buried six feet under hardened soil
And when I remember I spiral
Into the grief that enslaved me for so long
With shackles of bone shards
Confining me inside my consciousness
Days turned into weeks turned into months
as I walked the barren landscape of my mind
The sunlight touched the cracked dirt with
Nothing but the occasional oak
But the nights were crawling with monsters
Grotesque hands tearing through that earth with rotting flesh
Flashing the white of bone
Your hands. Tearing me down to
whatever hell lay below
After a while, they dissipated
I can’t say what it was that frightened them away
I think it was time
The survivor’s guilt began to fade
With the steady tick, tick, tick of the clock
The little red one beside my bed
I picked it up one day, the clock
and threw it at the wall
Sick of the monotonous ringing
I slammed it with my fists
Until the ground was speckled with my blood and glass
Some days I felt like I would take a bullet for you
And other days I felt like it was you behind the trigger
I think the reason I’ve come here less
Is not because I’ve ceased to yearn for times you were here
No, the grief clings to me like those rotting hands
Threatening to drown me in the shifting earth
But I think
I think its because I’ve started to heal
I’ve begun to perceive you as more than
The vessel that stored your person
I see you as the memories we shared more than
The ones we could have had
I look at you as the ideas you were more than
The ideas you could have had
Who you were
Rather than who you could be
The lilies will be here
Even when I’m not
Fresh or decayed
It doesn’t matter
Because it’s not about the withering rotten ugliness they expel
what beauty they once beheld
Write and Burn! is a poetry performance competition organised by Poetry Festival Singapore for students at upper secondary levels, junior colleges or equivalent levels at centralised institutes, polytechnics or international schools, in Singapore.
To raise standards of English Language communication through a competitive platform via the spoken word as a performance medium
To encourage expression of personal identity through the spoken word
To develop emerging young talents in Literature
Open to: All students at upper secondary levels, junior colleges, and equivalent levels at centralised institutes, polytechnics, and international schools, in Singapore
Medium: Video (Poetry Performance)
Qualifying Round: Submit a poem in response to a Singapore poem (published or performed in Singapore and/or by a Singaporean) found in libraries or from online sources
Length: Up to 3 minutes of performance time
[There is no maximum word count, as long as the duration of the reading is under 3 minutes — including a short preamble stating one's name and the poem's title, as well as a brief explanation of what the poem is about.]
Prizes: S$300 in book vouchers for the 1st place winner, book prizes for the 2nd and 3rd place winners
Deadline: 3 April 2022, 1159hrs
Please ensure that you submit the following to this online form.
(1) Written poem in Word or PDF format.
(2) Spoken performance of the poem in a short video (no longer than 3 minutes) as an unlisted link on YouTube or Google Drive.
There can be subtitles in the video but adding them would be optional.
*Participants are to submit only one entry per participant.
1. The challenge is open to permanent residents and citizens of Singapore aged 15 to 18 years (as of 31 Dec 2021).
2. Submissions close at noon (Singapore Time, 11:59) on 3 April 2022.
3. All poems must have a title and must not exceed 3 minutes of performance time, including preamble— stating one's name and the poem's title, short explanation of what the poem is about. Send your written entry before noon (Singapore Time, 11:59) on 3 April 2022 via this online form in Word or PDF formats. Your video entry should be submitted as an unlisted Youtube / Google Drive link; detailed instructions can be found in the form.
4. Each participant is encouraged to submit his, her or their best poem, which should preferably be unpublished. If your poem has been published in or submitted to any other platform or publication, please indicate as such in the online form.
5. In case of multiple entries, only the latest entry will be considered.
6. All entries will be evaluated anonymously by the judges.
7. Entries must be submitted via the online form only. No email submissions will be accepted.
8. Entries will not be returned in any form, so keep your own copy.
9. Under no circumstances can changes be made to poems once submitted.
10. The Organizer / Organization staff will be unable to confirm the content of documents submitted online, so please ensure you send the correct file.
11. The organizers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice and not to award prizes if, in the judges’ opinion, no entry deserves a prize.
12. The judges’ decision is final and neither the judges nor the Organization / Organizer staff will enter into any correspondence.
13. Poems must be the original work of the entrant.
14. Written entries should be typed in black at a minimum type size of 12pt. Entries can be double- or single-spaced and must be submitted as Word or PDF files. Video submissions should be audible and clear. The participant’s faces should not be covered, with no additional graphics or images. No subtitles are required for video entries.
15. There is an administrative fee of S$5 for each entry.
16. Entries will be assessed based on (i) clarity and expression in performance, (ii) precision with language, (iii) originality of thought, (iv) truthfulness of feeling, and (v) showmanship.
17. Shortlisted poets from the Qualifying Round will be notified.
18. The copyright of each poem remains with the writer. However, writers of the top poems, by entering the competition, grant Poetry Festival (Singapore) the right to publish and/or broadcast their poems.
1. Can I submit more than one entry? (Individual)
Yes, only the latest entry will be considered.
2. Can I submit entries in multiple languages (e.g. one entry under English and one entry under Chinese)?
No, this competition is in English.
3. Do I have to pay any submission fee?
No, there is no submission fee to submit your poem.
4. What is the judging criteria?
Entries will be assessed based on clarity and expression in performance, precision with language, originality, truthfulness of feeling and showmanship.
5. When will I know if I am shortlisted?
We will notify shortlisted applicants at a later date to be confirmed.
6. Is there an age limit?
Yes, participants should be aged between 15-18 years old as of 31 Dec 2022.
7. Can foreigners participate?
The competition is open to Permanent Residents, and Singapore citizens aged 15-18.
8. What are the submission requirements?The submission is a spoken word piece of no more than 3 minutes in length, filmed and uploaded on YouTube / Google Drive with an UNLISTED link.
[Please note: Participants should not be reading from paper / cue cards. Glancing from time to time is acceptable.]
All film submissions are to be accompanied by the poem in written form. This can either be submitted as a separate .docx or .pdf document. There is no word count or line limit for the poem.
9. Do I have to subtitle my video?
No, you do not have to subtitle your video submission.