Profile: Marc Nair

Published on 24 May 2016

Marc Nair oozes poetry on the page, behind the lens, and beyond.


Poet, photographer and master of spoken word Marc Nair creates worlds where words, images and sound come together in symbiosis. Even with six published books of poetry under his belt, he continues to accumulate artistic accomplishments in a variety of interests.

A self-confessed bookworm as a child, he read “in great, gasping amounts”, devouring everything in his primary school library from Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected to the Sweet Valley High series. The boy who would become a published poet began simply by scribbling verses in the margin of his secondary school science textbooks, penning his first full poem at the age of 19.

Apart from writing poems, Nair enjoys performing them, and is a regular on the poetry slam circuit. He has performed in more than 10 countries and has represented Singapore in international slam competitions. He also co-founded spoken word troupe, Party Action People, in 2013.

Nair extends his talents to other areas: in addition to being a regular voice on the popular mrbrown show podcast, he also writes songs and poems with his band Neon and Wonder, and is co-founder of culture magazine Mackerel.

The very mention of collaboration brings out the joy in Nair. “I think none of us hold all the cards when it comes to making light of life; innumerable moments of magic are unlocked when we cross creative frequencies from artists who come from different fields.”

A memorable collaboration was with blogger mrbrown at Singapore Day 2009, held in London, where they both performed to a crowd of 5,000, incorporating songs they had written together. Other team-ups include gigs with bassist Tim De Cotta; a book of children’s poems illustrated by Vanessa Chan; and a poetry and painting dialogue exhibition with painter Janette Maxey.

While he finds fulfilment in his craft, Nair is aware of the many misconceptions surrounding poets. The predominant ones being: “That we are difficult to understand. That it’s something you should do for fun. That poets always write in rhyme.” Moreover, the challenge of monetising one’s craft is one he shares with fellow artists.

In spite of the challenges, Nair stands strong with the confidence in knowing his own voice.

His greatest inspiration? Observing people and moments, and finding layers to those observations. “I think poetry is my attempt to unpeel, unearth and make small incisions,” he says. “After all, the most important thing when creating is having fun and making sure what I want to say comes across in the best possible way.”

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