I got started a bit later than I wanted to this morning and had to run to catch a taxi. I wanted to figure out the bus system but I was just too tired/rushed to bother. Anyway, if I’m not sitting in a workshop or talk, I’m walking all over Bangsar Village 1 and 2 just checking out the sights and the shops.
KL is a bit less intimidating after a couple of days. I found myself enjoying the rush and the people today.
The Tash Aw workshop this morning was about endings. We looked at the endings of two of the novels we used yesterday. Again, it was nothing most of us don’t already know but probably need someone else to verbalise it for us.
Someone asked him a very interesting question about whether he decided to pick a literature approach instead of a popular fiction approach.
“I don’t think that anyone makes a conscious choice. I don’t have the kind of writing style that lends to popular fiction. I wish I could [write pop fiction]; I could make more money, (*general laughter*) but I can’t.” he said.
But I think we can all agree that a good novel is made up of a little of everything.But what determines readability?Simplicity in words. Originality. Simple language in delivered in an arresting way. People look for different things in books, which is absolutely true. You may have enjoyed one particular book, but someone out that thinks it’s trash. Vice versa.But publishers look for something they can sell. ;-)
I had lunch with Lydia, Eric Forbes, his colleague Janet and another LitFest goer Neela at The Marmalade. I learnt a lot just listening to Eric and Lydia talk shop and got to ask Eric a couple of questions myself. We’ll get into that later.
After lunch, I went to Word Forward‘s session at Caffe 1920. They are a Singaporean poetry slam group and together with Ray McNiece of the original poetry slam, they gave us a good mix of styles and themes. Here’s Ray, who did a wonderfully interactive poem to open:
I’m one of the people in the very sparse crowd for the Malay poetry recital. I wanted to know what it is like, since I haven’t seen it outside of school. These guys are the heavyweights of the Malay poetry world – award winners and such – and their selection of theme is kinda heavy.During Q&A, I asked if anything got lost in translation when their poetry were translated to English. Afterwhich, I realised that I asked a question in English during an entirely Malay session. Oops.
Marsli N.O. answered my question, saying that they do explain the poem to the translator to preserve the meaning and meter. That somehow led to him doing a super dramatic poem (arm gestures and all) about the war in Iraq and I have to say, it was really moving. It was one of those moments where the quote “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful” applied.
There’s more but I’ll talk about it another day. I leave you with this: