Migrant worker and refugee literary outreach through poems


Get writing: submissions are now open for this year’s Migrant Worker & Refugee Poetry Competition in Malaysia. Photo: Handout

Submissions for this year’s Migrant Worker & Refugee Poetry Competition are now open.

This community-based poetry initiative, which was first held in 2015 as part of the Cooler Lumpur Festival, makes a virtual return for the second time due to the pandemic.

Migrant workers and refugees who have poems to share are encouraged to participate. The competition is open to all UNHCR cardholders and foreign workers in Malaysia. Open call ends on Sept 30.

This unique poetry outreach series aims to provide a platform for mutual understanding between Malaysians and migrant workers/refugees while celebrating their literary talent. A greater tolerance of multiculturalism is central to this initiative.

In the past years, the shortlisted poems have illuminated the daily realities of migrant workers and refugees, their desperation and hopelessness, a longing for a sense of belonging and also uplifting poems celebrating love and humanity. In each work, poetry proved to be the perfect bridge.

To participate this year, applicants can submit one poem in Bahasa Malaysia, English or their mother tongue. An English translation must also be provided.

A maximum of 15 entries will be shortlisted and selected finalists are required to record a recital of their poem and send it to the organisers.

Winners will be announced virtually on Nov 21 under three categories – junior, adult refugee and adult migrant worker. Cash prizes (up to RM1,000) are up for grabs in the adult categories, while the junior category winner will receive a trophy and certificate.The finals will be judged by local literary personalities Sharon Bakar, Looi Siew Teip and Universiti Malaya’s associate professor of English Carol Leon.

The Migrant Worker & Refugee Poetry Competition is organised by a group of volunteers under the Global Migrant Festival organising committee led by Singapore-based Indian writer/photographer Shivaji Das.

This year, partners include the UNHCR Malaysia, the Canadian High Commission in Malaysia, The Good Shop and ThinkRaw. –

Email entries to: mymigrantpoetry@gmail.com. More info here.

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