Poets, musicians perform online


Clockwise from top left: ‘If Walls Could Talk’ hosts Melizarani, Lily Jamaludin and Afi Noor with Iban poet Kulleh Grasi during the live stream poetry fundraiser.

AFTER a long hiatus, poetry open mic “If Walls Could Talk” returned for a live-stream fundraiser in aid of refugee families affected by the movement control order (MCO).

The three-hour long session titled “If Walls Could Talk: The Fever Dream Edition” saw 21 poets and musicians from seven countries performing online.

A sum of RM7,890 was raised by the end of the show. Host and If Walls Could Talk co-founder Melizarani T. Selva said the funds would be channelled to Refuge for the Refugees, Tenaganita, Dapur Jalanan and Liga Demokratik.

“After a few weeks of MCO, we found ourselves yearning to be in the company of poetry and friends.

“However, we are aware that home may not be the safest or most secure place for everyone, especially the refugee community in Malaysia.

“The majority of refugees depend on daily wages to support themselves and their families. Many of them have lost their sources of income and are struggling to put food on the table.

“So, we decided to revive If Walls Could Talk online with a fundraising element. The #StayAtHome edition had a six-member team participating.

“All the invited artistes agreed to be part of the show. We were very grateful for their willingness to participate because the MCO period in Malaysia and the lockdown in their respective countries had made it difficult for the artistes themselves to earn an income,” she said.

Malaysian musician Takahara Suiko performing live in Japanese and Bahasa Malaysia.Malaysian musician Takahara Suiko performing live in Japanese and Bahasa Malaysia.

Melizarani added that If Walls Could Talk had previously participated in initiatives that brought together Malaysian as well as refugee and migrant writers in the past.

“We have assisted with the Refugee and Migrant Poetry Competition where we featured poets and writers from these communities at our open mic session.

“We have also seen how projects like these can bring people together and provide more awareness and reflection on the concepts of migration, citizenship and solidarity. “We hope this show would not only contribute to the immediate needs of refugee families but allow poets and participants to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable at this time.

“We were excited to see hundreds of people commenting and sharing how much they loved the poetry show and how it brought them much-needed respite and joy during this trying time.

“In the course of the show, we not only managed to showcase the poetry and music of artistes around the world, but also got a glimpse at how this period of social distancing was affecting them in their respective countries,” she said.

Refuge for the Refugees founder Heidy Quah said the contribution was much needed.

“It means a lot to have strangers come together to back you up and keep you going.

“The resilience of the refugee community has been incredible. Though needs are aplenty, they have been looking out for one another and making sure everyone is taken care of.

“We have already distributed bags of groceries to hundreds of vulnerable refugee families and will be sending out more in the weeks ahead,” she said.

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