Word up!: Poetry scores big at inaugural Anugerah Buku Malaysia awards


Malachi receiving the best English language book award for 'Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems' during the Anugerah Buku Malaysia 2020 online ceremony on April 21. Photo: ABM

The Malaysian poetry genre had a big say at the inaugural Anugerah Buku Malaysia 2020 awards where poetry collections Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems and Peneka Silang Kata: Kumpulan Puisi T. Alias Taib won the Best English Language Book and Best Literature Book (Bahasa Malaysia) categories respectively.

There were 14 categories contested in the Anugerah Buku Malaysia awards, which announced its winners in a virtual event earlier today. The awards, organised by Malaysian Book Publishers Association (MABOPA) in conjunction with the Kuala Lumpur World Book Capital 2020 programme, aims to celebrate the homegrown book industry through this publisher-based awards and jury platform.

Best English Language Book prize winner Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems, published by Maya Press and edited by Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani, brings together poems of established and emerging local poets writing in the English language. It is the first volume of poems to cover a period of six decades of poetry in English with works from more than 50 poets.

All poems presented in this anthology have been previously published. They range from the works of the early poets like Wong Phui Nam, Muhammad Haji Salleh, to Shirley Geok-li Lim and Salleh ben Joned, and finally to spoken-word poets like Melizarani T. Selva to Jamal Raslan.

“I’m very happy and honoured that Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems has emerged the winner for this category. I wish to thank the jury and all who voted for my book. I’m thankful to Maya Press for publishing this collection of poems. There are few publishers who want to publish poetry, ” says Malachi.

“This award is a recognition to all the Malaysian poets whose work appear in this collection. Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems also draws its name from a poem by the late Salleh Ben Joned, who is among the poets in this collection, ” he adds.

Best Literature Book (Bahasa Malaysia) winner Peneka Silang Kata: Kumpulan Puisi T. Alias Taib, published by Kata Pilar, is a labour of love project which has introduced to the masses the late Malaysian poet’s unpublished or "hidden" works from his vast archives based in Kuala Lumpur.

The estate of T. Alias Taib and Kata Pilar collaborated on this collection of poems, which date back to the mid-1960s. T. Alias Taib (1943-2004) was known for his poetry, essays and features, which often covered issues of socio-economy, environment and humanities.

The Best Book Translation award went to author/academician Adli Yaacob and IIUM Press for Anak-Anak Di Lorong Kami, which is the Bahasa Malaysia version of Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz’s classic Children Of Gebelawi (1959).

The Best Children/Teen Book award was picked up by Atan (Special Edition), a comic book by Ben Wong and published by PTS Media. The Best Children’s Book award went to Ke Mana Miau Pergi? (story by Yusof Gajah, illustrator Sidi Hamdan Amirudin), which is published by Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka.

In the sole public vote category, Akitek Jalanan by Teme Abdullah and published by Iman Publications won the Best Popular Book award.

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