Migrant Worker Poetry Competition


On Sunday, ten poets from South Asia showcased their literary talent at the National Library.

I was unable to attend, so I was very pleased to see all the shortlisted poems and author biographies posted on this site earlier this week. The Bengali and Tamil poems are accompanied by English translations. (And those of you who can read Bengali and/or Tamil can appreciate the alliteration, assonance and consonance, and prosody in these poems in their original tongue. I’m sure the translations—by Gopika Jadeja, Debabrata Basu, Shivaji Das, and Souradip Bhattacharya (Bengali) and Krishna Udayshankar, Gopika Jadeja, Shobhana Udayshankar, and Vinod Krishnan (Tamil) are perfect, but there is just something special about reading/hearing a poem in the language it was originally written.)

To paraphrase a friend: “I hate that this is framed as ‘Singapore worker poetry’; it’s so much more.” Perhaps an expansion of what constitutes “Singapore poetry,” I hope? Read them; I have yet to decide which of these poems is my favorite.