Deborah Emmanuel (b.1988) is a Singaporean poet, multidisciplinary artist and speaker. As a poet she has been so privileged to feature at festivals like the Barcelona International Poetry Festival, the Makassar International Writers Festival and the Queensland Poetry Festival and to win competitions in Singapore, Germany and Australia. Her work has taken her across oceans, from the spiritual settings of Bali and Kathmandu to the vibrant cities of Berlin, London and New York. Her powerful spoken word has even toured alongside people like Anthony Anaxagorou and Sarah Kay.
Deborah’s first collection, When I Giggle In My Sleep, was published by Red Wheelbarrow Books early 2015. Her creative non-fiction work Rebel Rites, was self-published with a well-funded Pozible campaign in 2016. After the success of that, Deborah decided to release her third book Genesis: Visual Poetry Collection in 2018 with the same independence. When not making poems, she can be found making music with her diverse projects Wobology, Mantravine, The Ditha Project, and with DJ Kiat. Sometimes she works to devise and perform theatre. Her most recent work moves poetry into the physical body to be performed without words. She has also started making visual art as a new way to experience metaphor.
“Deborah is undoubtedly one of the greatest natural talents I have seen in the world of poetry. She can turn up and burn the place down in a few short breaths. Some poets need to practice, rehearse, run through lines and warm up before getting onto a stage. Deborah is always a poet, always sincere, always heartbreakingly truthful and effortlessly powerful.”
– LUKA LESSON
Deborah Emmanuel was a 19-year-old drama school dropout, working a soul-mashing job at a five-star hotel. She drank, smoked and had the occasional spliff or ecstasy pill. After a Monday-night party raid by the Central Narcotics Bureau, she tested positive for MDMA and THC. The next year unlocked her gates to the Singapore punitive system; a world of steel bars, squatting holes and broken women.
When I Giggle In My Sleep
When I Giggle In My Sleep is a collection of written and spoken word poems by DeborahEmmanuel. It is volume 1 of 4 in the Loud Mouth series published by Red Wheelbarrow books. These poems are a diverse collection of writing from the first 5 years of Deborah’s work. Expect intimate truths and feelings of loss and love from all the spaces between.
As long as I have been alive, I have felt alien. Outside collective identity, outside my own identity. In this poem, I am capturing two stories which I have lived simultaneously. This is a poem about two completely separate emotional states; one of longing and one of gradual acceptance. It is about a space of grappling with a being misunderstood within my otherness as well as in a time of experiencing unrequited love.
Keeping No Country
I was always drawn to Nepal. Many people are; it is an old and rich place full of deep beauty. In June 2016 I took some time to do an arts residency at The Marpha Foundation in the Mustang district. This time in the mountains shifted me into a different era of my work and career. Here I share some perspective on my solo journey to live in Marpha and find more meaning to the word ‘Home’.
“Deborah Emmanuel is one of the most exciting, challenging voices to have emerged in the Singaporean scene. To listen to her work is to listen to an artist who wears vulnerability like an armour, who uses poetry like courage. Her writing is both tender and tough, both lyrical and unapologetic. She’s one of the most important writers we have for young people who are confronting issues of true diversity, identity and experience.”
– POOJA NANSI
“Anchored by the profoundly heady lyricism of Singaporean poet-performer Deborah Emmanuel, Australian outfit The Ditha Project’s moody and groovy confluence of jazz, funk, folk and electronic soul is heaven-sent.”
– HIDIZIR JUNAINI, BANDWAGON ASIA
My father had this mammoth CD collection as I was growing up. There were hundreds of discs in stacks and stacks. They made alphabetized walls on either side of the television. Elton John, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin. I even found an unwrapped copy of Core by the Stone Temple Pilots. I will always wonder how that got there.
From the formative times, life had a soundtrack. From Black Metal to Trance to German Reggae. Whole chapters have passed with the accompaniment of three albums on passionate-obsessed cycle.
Now I get to contribute to songs and albums of my own while working with many kinds of musicians and instruments.
“Deborah Emmanuel, a Singaporean writer who will open her flip-flops whenever she will perform in public, at a seminar, discussion, or on stage. Like when we go into people’s homes, we’ll open sandals or shoes to honor the house, keep the house clean of others. Some people see this as a very romantic act of Deborah. “
“Inspirational and transformational, Deborah resonates with the strength of her convictions. After participating in Deborah’s workshops, our writers and performers will never look at poetry the same way again.”
– ADAM DAVY, HOD ENGLISH, KELVIN GROVE STATE COLLEGE
Experience a private workshop with me, designed specifically for you to explore your creativity and confidence. I work with people of all ages and genders to push boundaries and make art. My practice comprises of writing, visualisation, vocal, rhythm, movement, meditation and performance exercises. Depending on what you want out of your workshop, I will plan a series of activities to bring out the freedom of expression within you.
Group and School Workshop
Engage me to work with your students, organisation, writing group or friends. I have years of experience designing workshops for groups of up to 40 people, with foundations in theatre, applied drama, poetry and public speaking.
Commission Poem & Performance
Commission me to write a poem for you for any purpose. After that I can perform it for you live. I have written poems for weddings, awareness events, galleries and corporations. Most of the time I say yes. Prices are dependent on many factors, so email me to have a discussion about what you are looking for.