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Singapore Writers Festival Literary Pioneer – Celebrating Anne Lee Tzu Pheng



This year, the festival celebrates Anne Lee Tzu Pheng, Cultural Medallion recipient and one of Singapore’s most distinguished poets. Having written for over 30 years, Lee’s poetic voice is at once intensely personal and universal. Lee will deliver the first ever Literary Pioneer lecture about her writing journey as a vocation. Visit Lee’s exhibition to discover her creative life, inspiration, and legacy through poems and other personal memorabilia, and join her as friends, former students and colleagues share their favourite works from Lee in an evening of readings.

The SWF Literary Pioneer programme is curated by The Arts House.

Artist in Words Exhibition

Exhibition | 3 – 12 Nov | 10am – 10pm
Gallery II | Free

This exhibition will bring you on a journey through the poetry of Anne Lee Tzu Pheng. Often most well-known for her poem “My Country and My People”, Lee’s writing extends beyond themes of nation-building to spirituality, love, nature, and ordinary daily life. Preferring to be called an artist in words, rather than a poet, Lee’s respect for the art form is unwavering, as she continues to refine her craft to this day.


SWF Classroom: Anne Lee Tzu Pheng 101

Talk | 4 Nov | 11.30am – 1.30pm
Living Room | Fest Pass

The decades-spanning poetry of Lee is defined by wit, humanity, and candour. It also involves a distinct constellation of themes that has evolved with her highly private, mental life. Let poet-critic Gwee Li Sui take you down a new literary path through Lee’s personal literary journey. To celebrate the legacy of this major Singaporean poet, he will delve into some of Lee’s finest poems .

Swf lecture: not by bread alone or choice
(moderated by gwee li sui) 

Lecture | 5 Nov | 2.30pm – 3:30pm
Chamber | $15

Lee will share experiences and lessons gleaned from more than 30 years of writing poetry, and explain how her journey has become a vocation, where writing is not a choice or an exercise of the will, but a mysterious unfolding of her convictions that has as much to do with personal identity as with spiritual growth. 

an evening with ANNE

Reading | 8 Nov | 7.30pm – 9pm
Blue Room | Free

Join us as friends, colleagues and former students of Lee gather to read their favourite poems from her and share cherished memories they hold of the poet.


Watch the video of Anne Lee Tzu Pheng's interview below.

About Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

Anne Lee Tzu Pheng has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the Cultural Medallion (1985); SEA Write Award (1987); Gabriela Mistral Award from the Republic of Chile (1995); Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award (1996); and the NBDCS Award for English Poetry (three times). Some of her poems have been set to music. She published three new books in 2012 and another two in 2014, including Soul's Festival, a compilation of her first four collections which had been out of print.

Watch the video of "5 fun facts about Cultural Medallion recicipent Anne Lee Tzu Pheng!" below.


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