The seeds of Janet Liew’s abiding love for words, language, stories, books, and reading were sown in a childhood rich with visits to the National Library and secondhand bookstores, and deep-rooted memories of the sweet musk of ink on paper. Naturally, she went on to major in English Language and English, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English from the National University of Singapore. Later, on a Ministry of Education postgraduate scholarship, she returned to enjoy and complete a Master of Arts in English Studies.
As an educator, Janet has taught General Paper, and English Language and Literature at the secondary level. After a few years as CHIJ Secondary’s Subject Head of Literature, she spent the next decade in the English Unit of MOE’s Curriculum Planning and Development Division. There, as a Senior Curriculum Specialist, she reviewed national English Language and Literature teaching and assessment syllabi, explored pedagogies, developed print and digital instructional materials and teaching resources, conducted professional development workshops for teachers, and presented papers at international conferences, among other things.
She counts the editorial work she did then on anthologies of Singaporean short stories – such as Island Voices, Telltale: 11 Stories, and Here & Beyond: 12 Stories – as part of her small contribution to promoting Singaporean literature in the classroom.
As a poet, Janet was a winner in the National Arts Council’s national literary writing competition, the Golden Point Award for Poetry (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013); she has also been published in layang-layang, From Walden to Woodlands, and the Inheritance Anthology, as well as online at singaporepoetry.com. Her poems give her the space to investigate facets of human connections, and the porosity of personal and public spheres.
Janet takes inspiration wherever she finds it (or wherever it finds her), and believes in the power of literature to not only excite, discomfort and transform, but also to cultivate empathy and perspective-taking, transcend social, cultural, political and imaginative boundaries, and lift the mundane into the luminescent.