This month marked my first year of being one of the hosts for the Carnival of Poetry. I can still remember the feeling of excitement and nervousness when I was standing in front of the audience for the first time. And on this day, I moderated another session and I felt so joyful for the theme Self-Identity. Somehow I can really relate and I was so eager to listen to the poems that were prepared from our five poets from all over the world: from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Singapore, a Filipino raised in Singapore, and a virtual guest poet from Nigeria. (The said session is also available on Facebook if you want to watch the full video!)
Even though the weather that afternoon was cold on the island, I am sure that listening to their poetry would will warm your heart. Let’s take for example the poem from Kimberly Lium, I Am Love, A Four Letter Word, which I understand was about how loving yourself for being who you are is so important. Love is the root of acceptance and she is so brave to talk about it. You know sometimes in this modern world there are still groups of people who are not in favor of someone choosing their identity, but who are we to stop them if they are much more comfortable about it, right? And for her second poem, As I Move On To The Next Day, I can feel the longing for yesteryears, which sometimes I can hardly let go of, where sometimes I frequently visit the past and still I need to get away from reality. It’s not only the place but also the memories of those people whom I missed the most. Do you have this kind of feeling? Where sometimes those kinds of experiences help to mold us for who we are today.
Our next reader, who prefers to call her Sha-sha, shared her poem I Am. As she started reading every line of her piece, I saw a strong woman! One who fully developed her strength to face all the adversities in life, yes! Sometimes it’s easier to say than to do it, but believe me, when you go through a lot of tribulations in life, you will have this kind of armor that they won’t easily take away from you. Her second poem was very significant for her, even the title itself, 02-22-2022, which was her birthday where she tested positive in COVID-19. But instead of being worried, no! She took it as Heaven’s gift to her for her special day, to rest and get better. This is the plot twist in life that we don’t expect, that in those times of uncertainties, everything halts.
As I was listening to the poem ode to the cai fan stall auntie who likes my tattoos from our third reader Dianne, I remembered my friend who is now staying back in the Philippines for good. Every time we met during our days off before, she never failed to say something so nice to me, like that I’m pretty or that the the dress I’m wearing suits me well. In life, we need someone like them to uplift us because sometimes we forget to appreciate ourselves. We do not need a lot of people to like us – the Cai Fan Auntie and my friend are already enough, it’s the quality of people we need in our life, not the quantity.
Our fourth reader was Haider from Bangladesh. I’ve admire his deep voice since I first heard it during the practice for one of our performances at Esplanade, then I became one of his fans. The poems he read are from his fellow migrant writers which talked about migration and living away from loved ones to work abroad for the future. And I can truly resonate with the meaning of their poems as I am also a migrant sacrificing being able to see only son growing, but I’d rather be doing this if I can assure a good future for him. I will stay here in Singapore for a while.
Last but not the least, we were joined by Eriata, a poet from Nigeria who diligently sent his poems via video recording. We deeply appreciatec the effort to join us and to share his poems. The power of the internet to connect each other from all around the world.
Julie Ann Tabigne