Photo from the Writers Guild website
Much of my writerly sensibilities as a budding poet were shaped at Raffles Institution (then called Raffles Junior College). The Creative Writing Club (as it was then called) was overseen by Mr Keith Prince, and my close friends Jeffrey Lim, Alvin Pang, Jonathan Kuan and Tong Jo-tsze were part of this community too. Our regular interactions gave us sufficient momentum to put together a poetry anthology titled "In Search of Words" (VJ Times, 1991) not long after we graduated, and the modest sum raised from the sale of the book was gifted to RI.
So it gave me a certain pleasure to stay connected with the student writers' community at my alma mater. I was invited several times over the years to judge competitions, give workshops or speak to the student body. This year I was an honoured guest at the launch of the school Writers Guild's comma-themed anthology of creative writings. Here is the Guild's explanation of the theme as expressed in the anthology writings:
"We started off with the idea of the comma’s basic function within an utterance: to provide breathing space. This was important to us because the audible pauses in a line of dialogue, for example, are so instrumental in creating a moment of tension or changing the meaning of a phrase. From there, we branched off into various interpretations of breathing space. These can be found in the categories of stories in our anthology."
Such an approach elevates creative writing by paying respect to what words cannot do. This is one of my core convictions as a writer and public speaker. When I was called upon to speak for a few minutes I mentioned how much I enjoyed the student performances of their original work. I also reminisced about the CWC as the predecessor community of the Guild, and observed that "the current Writers’ Guild is a result of a long period of perseverance and excellence,as well as a sustained passion for creative writing down several batches."
Thank you RI for having me at the very enjoyable event. A special shout out to Wan Jia Ling (student leader of the Guild and a dance student of Namiko's). Kudos to all the very talented featured students! - Aaron
Read Wong Zi Kang's entire commentary on the anthology and the launch proceedings.