Last year, Peril was invited to host a conversation with Foreign Soil award winning author and poet Maxine Beneba Clarke in WrICE: Postcard from Singapore as part of the inaugural Digital Writers Festival. Instead of a solitary conversation in her hotel room, Maxine gathered together the other writers in the residency and Peril‘s Editor-at-Large Lian Low facilitated conversations with an array of celebrated literary figures – Singaporean poet Alvin Pang; Malaysian writers and poets Eddin Khoo and Bernice Chauly; Philippines based writer Laurel Fantauzzo; and Australian writer Melissa Lucashenko in Books Actually an independent Singaporean bookshop and publisher.
The WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange) program supports cultural immersion in the Asia-Pacific for established and emerging Australian writers, and enabled a cross-pollination of ideas and connection with Asian-based writers at different career stages. It is led by Directors – Associate Professors David Carlin, Francesca Rendle-Short and Clare Renner. The inaugural program was held over ten days in Penang, Malaysia and Singapore.
This year, Peril is excited in bringing you digital writerly postcards from WrICE residency writers as they immerse themselves in Vietnam. Peril suggested that authors contribute work using the digital devices available to them – for eg using the sound recorder and camera in their smartphones – to feature as a digital scrapbook.
Again, this year’s WrICE residency writers are literary field luminaries within the Asia-Pacific region : Vietnamese poet Bao Chan Nguyen, Australian author and poet Cate Kennedy, Filipina writer Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz, Myanese contemporary poet Nyein Way, Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet Omar Musa, Singaporean author Suchen Christine Lim and Hong Kong novellist Xu Xi.
For further information about the WrICE residency program and the participating writers please visit the WriCE website.
A big thanks to Dr Francesca Rendle-Short for facilitating this process and digitally posting (ie emailing) WrICE postcards to Peril!
Our first beautiful postcard, “The Boatman in Hoi An” is from Suchen Christine Lim.
The Boatman in Hoi An
He sat in his little boat, stroking his white beard, unperturbed by the flashing cameras on the riverbank. He and I exchanged a smile. He beckoned me to his boat. I climbed down the wooden steps and sat facing him. He grinned, and started to row as I took pictures with my iPhone. In the middle of the river, he suddenly stopped rowing. He held up both hands showing his ten gnarled fingers once, twice, five times. On the sixth count, he held up five fingers, and pointed to himself. Ah, 55 years old, I said. He nodded and pointed to me. I raised both my hands six times, and on the seventh count, I showed him five fingers and a thumb. A wide smile lit up his face and eyes. We laughed, happy in that shared moment. Then he started to row, and I picked up the other oar and joined him.
SUCHEN CHRISTINE LIM’S latest novel The River’s Song was launched in Singapore & London this year. The Singapore author has written five novels, a short-story collection, a co-written play, a non-fiction work and fourteen children’s picture books. Her novel Fistful of Colours won the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize In 2012 she received the Southeast Asia Write Award. Other novels are Rice Bowl, Gift From The Gods, and A Bit of Earth, and other works include The Amah: A Portrait in Black & White, The Lies That Build a Marriage, Hua Song: Stories of the Chinese Diaspora. Awarded a Fulbright fellowship, she was an International Writing Fellow and writer in residence at the University of Iowa, and a Visiting Fellow in Creative Writing in the Technological University of Singapore. She has also been awarded writing residencies in UK, Australia, S. Korea and the Philippines.