– Suchen Christine Lim, Singapore

This writing residency is like no other. In most writing residencies, the writer works alone. In the WrICE residency, 12 writers from different parts of S E Asia and Australia spend 10 days together to write and to listen to one another’s work-in-progress, to laugh and cry over, oh, so many things to do with writing and creating, loving and hating or simply just getting on with it and write.

The soul of this programme is in the attentive listening of a writer’s work-in-progress by fellow writers from diverse cultures, people you have not met before, and whose writing you have not read before and whose books you would probably give a pass in a bookshop.

For the writers reading their new and raw work for the first time to a group of peers who are also strangers, the experience is both nerve wrecking and exhilarating, but highly rewarding. In the process, new bonds and friendships are forged. Later in the evening over drinks and dinner, we laugh and chat shooting the breeze as the Ozzies say. We sit by the river in Hoi An. We eat Vietnamese satay, drink Hanoi beer and talk about love and life.

On the surface, the WrICE programme looks simple enough. In the morning, writers are free to read and write or simply to wander around. In the afternoon we meet to listen to one another’s work. At night we have dinner together and simply hang out to relax. But beneath the surface, something magical happens.

A writer who never writes poetry dreams a poem into being. This actually happened to me. I saw the first line of WrICE Dream in my sleep and wrote the rest at 4am when I woke up.


WrICE Dream

If there are problems they were meant

to be swept out of the sky.

There’s something about being in the presence

of poetry or a story being born.

A new poem rough hewn with lines sharp as glass

we still hold it to our heart, and if a line cuts we gladly bleed.

The same for stories that make us laugh and cry

in the presence of strangers

who become friends because of a story shared.

In the presence of a new story or new poetry we rejoice

like farmers bringing in the harvest of WrICE

our laughing faces echoing our thanks to the sky.