Posted On 15.07.2020
UNDER THE ‘ABOUT’ section on Jennifer Anne Champion’s website, it is written that she is a performance poet and writer. While the website contains an extensive and impressive repertoire of her personal milestones in Singapore’s arts and cultural scene, who would have known that her foray into spoken word was an accident?
When she was an undergraduate, she was singing in bars to earn her keep. At that time, she was also dating a spoken word poet who had encouraged her to write. On writing, she says, “It was like this sexy thing that I had never known I was missing in my life.”
TO DISCOVER [WRITING] IN A BAR, IN MY FACE, WITH A PINT IN HAND… I LOVED ITS APPROACHABILITY.
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, YOU REALLY ARE COMPELLED TO IT.
Jennifer uses the word “accidental” in describing her personal writing style–she begins with a story before developing it as far as she can. Her personal preferences of characters are those that face situations involving ambiguity, those that are “not always black and white”. What she wants to do is to arrive at satisfying conclusions without being judgmental. As for her favourite kind of writing, the ingredients comprise of immediacy, honest, and distance.
Asked about the challenges she personally face as a writer, performer, or artist, she responds, “How do you sustain your practice, find the time to do your art and feed yourself. Not just financially but also emotionally feed yourself. You have to find ways that work for you.” During She Walks Like A Free Country (2013), the first show produced by Sekaliwags, she was working three part-time jobs to cope with finances, as well as personal relationship problems. The stress led to her developing Kawasaki Syndrome–where small blood vessels in her body expanded. In response to her circumstances, her technique was formed while she was writing a poem titled Ballet Class–it had to be composed orally because she could not write as her hands were swollen. This process of oral composition grew into a favourite method of hers. It is a form of verbal therapy, which suits the performance poetry form.
Through this form of rediscovery, Jennifer feels that writing loops back to an artistic ambition she was not quite allowed to develop. Having gone into practice, she has discovered affinity among fellow writers and audiences. “Writing is only self-discovery up to a point. Once you find you, you find your tribe. And that tribe is international,” she says.
As for her thought processes when she is creating work, she responds that “I ask myself what the poem wants and I feed it. When it is full, I ask what the reader/audience wants and I edit it. I always leave what I want as my last question. I don’t matter in the poem. It wants what it wants.”
Images from Jennifer