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A weekend of Tamil literary events

Tamil cultural showcase... (Above) 

RaghaJazz and boxchild in Lyrical 

Roots: The Poetry of Music.  

(Top) The Many Splendoured Folk Art of 

Tamil Storytellers segment performers.

(Right) Street dance drama segment 

called Therukoothu.









Tamil Murasu 

partners National 

Arts Council 

to showcase 

Tamil language 

and culture at 

Singapore Writers 

Festival 2017


HIS year’s Singapore Writ-

ers Festival (SWF) took on 

the theme of ‘Aram’, a Tamil 

word that focuses on the universal 

concept of goodness, exhorting us 

to reflect on our conscience, vir-

tues and societal values.

The word appears notably in 

Thirukkural, an ancient Tamil text 

that is widely revered as the most 

influential literary work in the lan-


Tamil Murasu partnered the 

National Arts Council to organise 

three events for this year’s festival 

(Nov 3-10) which catered to peo-

ple of all walks of life.

These  events, held in the 

first weekend of the fes-

tival, three events were 


Lyrical Roots: The Poetry of Music;  

The Many-Splendoured Folk 

Art of Tamil Storytellers and 


Everyday Poems – a Poetic evening 

with Tamil Murasu

Lyrical Roots: The Poetry of 


HARD rock and jazz met Tamil 

poetry at the inaugural event of 

the Singapore Writers Festival. The 

festival kicked off on Nov 3 with 

a concert titled Lyrical Roots: The 

Poetry of Music. It featured two 

local bands, RaghaJazz and box-

child. The bands composed original 

tunes to the poems of veteran local 

writers like KTM Iqbal and Muru-

gadiyan and celebrated Indian po-

ets like Bharathiyar and Bharathi-


With the backdrop of jazz quin-

tet RaghaJazz’s swelling crescen-

dos followed by rock band box-

child’s uplifting vocals and melodic 

guitar riffs, the audience were giv-

en an insight into the bands’ inter-

pretation of the poems and what 

they envisioned Aram to be.

RaghaJazz is notable for fusing 

classical Carnatic and Hindustani 

music with jazz. Drawing inspi-

ration from local composers, the 

band formed by Raghavendran Ra-

jasekaran, 32, adds a Singaporean 

spin to its music. For the first time 

the band played music for Tamil 

poems that were sung by local 

singer Suthasini.

Having played only English 

songs at its rock gigs, boxchild is 

highly influenced by Japanese rock 

or J-rock. As a first attempt, the 

quartet performed Tamil poems to 

their loud, crashing rock music.

In their sets, both RaghaJazz 

and boxchild also accompanied 

young writers Ashwinii Selvaraj, 

Jayasutha Samuthiran, Elancharan 

Gunasekaran and Harini V during 

the recital of their poems based on 

Aram, specially commissioned for 

this concert.

“I have never been to a rock or 

jazz concert and during this per-

formance I thoroughly enjoyed the 

two different worlds coming to-

gether to create beautiful music,” 

said Mr Vijay Sangarramu, 35, one 

of those who attended the concert.


Sudha Raman

The Many-Splendoured Folk 

Art of Tamil Storytellers

ON Nov 4, Indian cultural per-

formers used music and dance as 

forms of storytelling in a two-hour 

performance at the Victoria The-


The performance featured Vil-

luppaattu (bow song, a form of 

musical story telling with a bow 

and an arrow), Therukoothu or 

street theatre, Oranganadagam 

(a street dance drama) and 

Kathakaalatchebam, or musical 

story telling.

Villuppaattu was performed 

by Bharathi Thirumagan, 50, 

a renowned Villuppattu ar-

tiste from Chennai With her 

on stage were her 25-year-old 

son T. Kalaimagan and husband S. 


They performed the first piece 

of local Tamil literature, written 

in 1893, titled Athivinotha Kuthi-

rai Panthaya Lavani, in the Villup-

pattu format. It is a poem that was 

written for the 50th anniversary 

of horse racing in Singapore. It de-

scribes a couple from India who 

are here on a sight-seeing trip and 

who go to watch the races at the 

old race course.

Also performing were local 

dance and theatre practitioners 

from Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, who 

put up a first-of-its kind perfor-

mance on Silappadikaram, one of 

the five great epics of Tamil litera-


Other highlights included Oran-

ganadagam by Avant Theatre, di-

rected by G Selva. This short play 

was a creative reimagining and ad-

aptation of the short story Peedam 

(The Pedestal), written by well-

known local writer Rama Kanna-


Hosting the show as well 

as putting up an engaging ly 

Kathakaalatchebam performance 

were university students Syed 

Ashratullah and Saravanan Shan-


Though now increasingly rare, 

these participative folk art forms 

once conveyed values and ethics 

to rural audiences through age-old 



Mohamed Fairoze

Everyday Poems – a Poetic 

evening with  

Tamil Murasu

ON Nov 5, poets who have been 

writing for Tamil Murasu, spent 

their evening reading and listening 

to poems in Tamil.

The poetry recital event titled 

Everyday Poems was held at the 

tent@empress outside Victoria 


Around 30 poets read their po-

ems based on Aram.

“Though it is difficult to live with 

Aram, Singapore has inculcated 

this virtue in us since young,” said 

Madam Noorjahan Sulaiman, 66, 

a housewife who has been writing 

poems for Tamil Murasu for more 

than 30 years.

She was one of those who recit-

ed her poem at the event. 

The poems which were recited 

also covered topics such as war, 

the plight of foreign workers in 

Singapore, personal experiences of 

poets and incidents that created an 

impact in their lives.

Construction worker Karunak-

arasu Chinnasami, who has been 

writing poems for Tamil Murasu 

for 20 years, recited a poem about 

a man playing a musical instru-

ment whom he has seen daily 

while on his way to work.

The local Tamil poets who re-

cited their poems included estab-

lished poets like Patheral Ilamaran, 

M. Anbazhagan, A.K. Varathar-

asan, Kasangadu Amirthalingam, 

N.V. Visayabharathi, Se.Pa. Pan-

eerselvam, N. Andiyappan and P. 


Ms Subiksha Raman, 17, who at-

tended the session said: “I learnt 

more about Tamil poems through 

this event and would like to write 

in the future”.


Wilson Silas

Sudha Raman, 


Fairoze and 

Wilson Silas are 

journalists with 

Tamil Murasu.