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Filipino Novelist Facilitates First Southeast Asian Creative Writing Workshop in the UK

SULAT’s pioneering batch of creative writing fellows participated in the two-day creative writing workshop facilitated by Filipino novelist Gina Apostol. Photo by Stacy Garcia

09 January 2019 LONDON—Filipino novelist Gina Apostol facilitated the first Creative Writing Workshop under SULAT, a platform launched by the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London (SOAS) aimed at fostering an active and engaged creative writing community for Southeast Asian literature.

The workshop focused on discussions about the place of history and the ‘silent voices’ in writing post-colonial fiction.  It was followed by a round of critiques on the works of SULAT’s first batch of creative writing fellows and concluded with readings from the award-winning masterpieces of Apostol and Reine Arcache Melvin.

“SULAT is committed to discovering and supporting emerging writers of Southeast Asian descent in the UK,” said Dr. Cristina Martinez-Juan, who currently heads SOAS’ Philippine Studies Programme.  “It’s meant to be a space where writers can come together, learn from each other, and support each other, particularly in terms of Southeast Asian literature.”

According to Juan, Southeast Asia is replete with brilliant writers but in order to increase the works’ readership, it needs wider distribution, more media coverage, and more people talking about the stories being written by Southeast Asian writers.

“Writers are some of the most important purveyors of culture,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo.  “Works of literature, whether prose or poetry, have the power to provide people a glimpse into the soul of a nation and the essence of a country’s culture.  Specific to Philippine literature, the Filipinos’ strong command of the English language make us some of the most compelling storytellers in the English speaking world.” SULAT aims to follow-up on the workshop by continuously engaging the pioneering batch of creative writing fellows and by initiating other activities that aimed at igniting interest in Southeast Asian literature in the United Kingdom (UK).

Gina Apostol reads sections from her latest book, Insurrecto. Photo by Stacy Garcia
Reine Arcache Melvin explains the historical backdrop of her latest book, The Betrayed. Photo by Stacy Garcia

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