Pooja Nansi and Yvan Heng awarded Officers of Arts and Letters

On June 27, 2024, HE Minh-di Tang, the French Ambassador to Singapore, awarded the title of “Officier des Arts et des Lettres” (Officer of Arts and Letters) to Ms. Pooja Nansi, a poet, writer, educator, and the Festival Director of the Singapore Writers Festival from 2019 to 2023. This honor was bestowed upon Pooja for her significant contributions to fostering literary cooperation between France and Singapore.

In her speech during the ceremony, HE Minh-di Tang remarked, “By highlighting France as the Country Focus in the 2022 edition, you opened a space where French culture could thrive and be celebrated in Singapore.”

From 2019 to 2022, Pooja curated programs for the Singapore Writers Festival, bringing together voices from around the world and creating a forum for conversations that resonated widely. She collaborated closely with the French Embassy to present 20 French and Francophone authors in Singapore, including Leila Slimani, Kamel Daoud, Atiq Rahimi, Lilian Thuram, and Emma Becker.

Ms. Pooja Nansi has authored several poetry collections, including “Stiletto Scars” and “Love is An Empty Barstool,” which have been praised for their raw honesty and lyrical beauty. Through her writing, she provides poignant insights into the complexities of multiculturalism.

Beyond her literary and educational endeavors, Pooja has been an advocate for various social causes, using her platform to raise awareness about issues such as gender equality and cultural diversity. Her commitment to fostering an inclusive arts community is evident in her numerous initiatives, such as the monthly slam and spoken word poetry event Speakeasy (2013-2018) and the Singapore chapter of Burn After Reading, a collective for young emerging poets.

Through her work, Pooja Nansi has championed the power of words and bridged cultural divides, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse narratives.

 

HE Minh-di Tang also conferred the title of “Officier des Arts et des Lettres”  to Mr. Ivan Heng, actor, director, and artistic director of Wild Rice Theatre. This prestigious award, one of the highest honors of the French Republic, recognizes individuals who have contributed to the promotion of arts and cultural heritage in France and around the world. Mr. Heng received this honor for his significant contributions to heritage conservation and the strong cooperation he initiated between France and Singapore.

His commitment to French culture and values reflects his dedication to cross-cultural exchange and artistic collaboration. Through carefully curated productions and collaborative projects, Ivan Heng has brought the richness of French theatre, literature, and arts to Singaporean audiences. As the Artistic Director of Wild Rice, Ivan has adapted French “boulevard” comedies and classics, including Yasmina Reza’s “Art” in 1999, Marc Camoletti’s “Boeing Boeing” in 2002, Molière’s “The Hypochondriac” in 2008, Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano” and Jean Poiret’s “La Cage aux Folles” in 2017, and Molière’s “Tartuffe” in 2022. In these productions, Ivan Heng has preserved the essence of the originals while infusing them with a unique Singaporean flavor, making them accessible and relevant to contemporary local audiences.

Beyond his artistic endeavors, Ivan Heng has been a tireless advocate for social change, using his platform to raise awareness about pressing societal issues. His courage in addressing controversial topics has had a profound impact, sparking conversations and inspiring positive action within communities.

Through Wild Rice’s mentorship, workshops, and educational programs, Ivan Heng has empowered countless individuals to explore their creative potential and pursue their passions. His efforts have inspired a new generation of artists.