Rhyme scene: submissions are now open for Malaysian Poetry Writing Competition

In these uncertain times in Malaysia, a quiet moment with a poetry book can change the mood of the day. Photo: Bernama

Time for poets and aspiring writers to get busy, especially during these MCO days when words can help to lift the mood. The Malaysian Poetry Writing Competition is now open for submissions.

Submissions must be unpublished original work, written in English and not longer than 40 lines. This competition is open to Malaysian citizens of all ages.

“Poetry is generally thought to be of less interest to readers when compared to the other more popular genres like short stories and novels. However, I believe that there is still keen interest in reading and writing poetry. Besides the traditional notions of writing poems, today there is a lot of interest in spoken word poetry. As such, the poetry scene has become livelier, ” says Professor Emeritus Malachi Edwin Vethamani, who chairs the organising committee.

The competition is organised by the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Last year’s edition of the poetry competition, which was opened to poets below 35, welcomed over 500 submissions, with selected poems published in Malaysian Millennial Voices earlier this year.

The anthology is published by Maya Press, a co-sponsor of the competition.

“My experience with young Malaysian poets has been very positive and I am very encouraged by the huge response I received for a call for submissions last year. Many writers asked why I had restricted the age limit to 35 years, and they complained they felt left out. The competition this year is an opportunity for all Malaysians, of any age, to submit their poems, ” adds Malachi, an author and educator.

The first prize winner of this year’s competition will be awarded RM1,000, followed by RM750 and RM500 for the second and third place, respectively.

Among the things the judges will be looking for is how Malaysian English, in all its variations, is used as a medium of creative expression.

Additionally, Malachi notes that there will be interest in the different poetic forms the writers use, the themes and preoccupations of the writers, and how these are effectively presented through various poetic devices.

“A national poetry writing competition has not been held for decades. I hope with this competition, Malaysians will be encouraged to submit their writing. There is a lot of poetry writing that is going on but only few opportunities for publication, this competition is one such opportunity. I believe we will hear from new voices and from writers who have already been published, ” he concludes.

Each writer can submit up to three poems. The submission deadline is July 15. Winning entries as well as poems that receive high commendation from the judges will be published by Maya Press in an anthology early next year.

More info here.

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