Friday, February 28, 2014

Silverfish Public Talk -- March 2014

Topic: Uneasy Alliances, Writers and the University: A Report from Both Sides of the (Diasporic) Border by Shirley Lim
Venue: Silverfish Books Sdn Bhd, 28-1, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-22844837
Date & time: Saturday, 15 March, 2014 at 5.30pm

An abstract by Ms Lim says: "While writing is often constructed as a solitary endeavour undertaken by an individual talent, works of literature, particularly contemporary fiction and poetry, achieve their reputation and after-life through the circuits of public reception, often with academics and scholars as gatekeepers. This talk looks at the cognitive dissonance, complicity and negotiations undertaken in that relationship in the U.S., and asks what and why is the state of that relationship in Malaysia."

Okay. If that was a mouthful, Shirley clarifies: This will NOT be an academic paper with endless citations, but an Alice through the Looking Glass, let's go down that rabbit hole together evening ...

As Malaysians, we like to claim Shirley Lim as our own. Universities teach her books, she continues to sell steadily in our bookshops, and she has lots of friends and relatives here. If Lin Yutang was right when he said, "What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?" then she is thoroughly Malaysian. Yet, by citizenship she's American, and a proud one at that.

Her biodata is a mile long, so we shall simply highlight a few points.(If you want to know more, look here.) She was born in 1944 in Malacca, Malaysia, and describes herself as "a wild girl who ran with the boys and alone through the streets" (Among the White Moon Faces, 49). In interviews, she has talked about her "stubborn spirit" that she utilized in school, making her a leader as well as an outcast. She has reportedly said, "Growing up when I did, there weren't many other recreational alternatives, and I had a pretty unhappy childhood ... Reading was a huge solace, retreat, escape. I was a really obsessive reader. Somewhere along the line, I had a sense I should write about things I knew rather than read about things I didn't know. I wanted to write my own voice, my own community."

Her early education was at a Catholic convent school under the British colonial education system. She won a federal scholarship to the University of Malaya which she attended from 1964 to 1969, earning a BA with First Class Honors in English. In 1969, at the age of twenty-four, she entered graduate school at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, earning her Ph.D. in English and American Literature in 1973.

She says that poetry is her driving passion. "That was my first form of literary expression and is the most primal for me." Her first poem was written and then published in the Malacca Times when she was ten. Her first book of poetry, Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1980. She was the first woman and the first Asian to receive the award.

Shirley Lim is disarming, articulate, intelligent and a wonderful human being. So, come, let's go down that rabbit hole together with a glass of red -- bring a bottle  if you can! -- or tea, or water (plain or sugared).

Admission is free, but do RSVP by replying this email, or call Phek Chin at the number above. (We need to know how many chairs we need to put out.)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Shirley Lim writing workshop is here again

This is the third time we are holding a writing workshop by Shirley Lim. The last two were sold very quietly. She is a very good teacher indeed.

Sources, Selves and Stories: Mimesis and Mirrors.
Silverfish 2014 Writers Workshop, facilitator Shirley Geok-lin Lim.
Sunday, March 16, 2014, 9.30am -- 5.00pm. (One-day workshop)
Fee: MYR: 400.00 (Earlybird fee of MYR360.00 will apply to fully paid registrations before 5 March 2014)
Limited to 16 participants.
Registration link:

The day’s prompt is writing on what you know, what you see, what you don’t know, and what others see. The time is dedicated to generating writing as content and as literary stylistics. The workshop is structured as quadrants, with individual, small group and whole workshop activities.

Schedule summary:

9.30 am --11.00 am: The first quarter is composed of introductions, as others see you, as you see yourself, and to know your own strengths and goals.
11.00 am --1.00 pm: The second quarter will focus on time spent on writing, either beginning a new project or working with an on-going project.
1.00 pm -- 2.00 pm: Lunch break
2.00 pm  -- 3.15 pm: The third quarter is workshop-focused: small group sharing, critiquing, revisioning the big picture, and minding/mining the particulars.
3.15 pm -- 4.15 pm: The last quarter is rewriting the workshop project: reframing, cutting, expanding, refining, and polishing.
4.15 pm -- 5.00 pm: The last segment of the workshop is celebrating your work with readings and final assessments on takeaways.

About the facilitator:
Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s  (Fulbright and Wien International Scholar; Ph.D. Brandeis University) Crossing the Peninsula received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. She’s published seven poetry collections; three books of short stories; two novels (Joss and Gold and Sister Swing); a children’s novel, Princess Shawl, translated into Chinese; and The Shirley Lim Collection. Her memoir, Among the White Moon Faces, received the American Book Award. Author of two critical studies, she edited/co-edited Reading the Literatures of Asian America; Approaches to Kingston’s The Woman Warrior; Transnational Asia Pacific; Power, Race and Gender in Academe; Transnational Asian American Literature; The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women's Anthology (1990 American Book Award winner); Writing Singapore; and other volumes; edited/co-edited Journal of Transnational American Studies and other journals. She served as Women’s Studies Chair (UCSB) and Chair Professor of English (HKU) and is Research Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. Awarded the Multiethnic Literatures of the United States Lifetime Achievement Award and UCSB Faculty Research Lecture Award, she has taught at CUNY, SUNY, MIT, National Institute of Education (NTU), National Sun Yat-Sen University, National University of Singapore, and City University of Hong Kong.