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Carnival of Poetry: We Belong

23 July, 2023

Carnival of Poetry (COP) is a monthly event organized by Migrant Writers of Singapore and supported by Sing Lit Station to establish bonding among the international community of poets and poetry enthusiasts. This event aims to celebrate the universality of literature, especially poetry, as a medium to communicate, unite, and celebrate humanity.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Sing Lit Station when all these amazing poets from different parts of the world shared their poetry. We have four readers in-person and one video recorded from Nigeria, how amazing the internet can connect each other for the love of literature. After the first round of reading, we have one open mic from the audience. The energy and the vibe inside the house is so wonderful.

It was packed with different interpretation of the theme “We Belong”, that proves a power of writing.

Zamiya Noor talks about Mental Health – how do we find this belongingness despite of the scars or the things that we are going through? Her poems “Is There A History of Mental Illness In Your Family” and “This Must Be What Death Feels Like” evoked so much emotions while listening to them. Like how are these people going through their lives everyday? How will they fight all the things that is trying to snatch them away from their loved ones? How do they feel belonging in this world?

Yeow Kai Chai – his poems are very experimental. I can see how we are inspired to write anything and everything around us. The combination of algebra and poetry in his poem is quite new to me and it’s amazing! And how he explained about the poem “A Slit from Sternum to Pizzle” was inspired from the movie King Kong. Who would guess that, right?

Siti Umairoh – I’ve been seeing her few times in the community and sometimes in the workshops, yet it is my first time to see her reading her poem and my heart is aching for home when she read her piece, which she has kindly allowed us to share here:

AWAY

I am here
Doing the same things every day
Wake up, start work, and sleep
Don’t realize time passed by

I am here
Forget how old I am
Don’t recognise my hair turn white
Wrinkle on the skin, bag on the eyes

You’re there
Growing so fast
More mature than I thought
My heart pounds, when I see you smile

We talk on the phone once a while
You become bigger and bigger
I was not with you to show my care
I missed you in silence

Longing each other but keep it inside
How long more to be separate?
We are too compromised with the time
Let it gone, let it bye

No matter how,
this is would never be forever
No matter how,
I have to go back after

I am here, I am still here
I am happy, I feel at home
But still I remember I have to return one day
Because home is where we belong

The last line hit me hard, “….Home is where we belong.” Yes! A place of not so perfect people, a nest of love, forgiveness and understanding. We will one day return to our familiar place, where our hearts and souls belong.

Musri Atin is a little bit shy but have the courage to stand up in front to read her poems. She recite the poem titled “We Belong To Each Other”. I love the lines “….. I know everything will be okay, You’re there for me when I need you…” These lines for me is very comforting, not only in a romantic relationship, but also to any kind of relationship we have, friends, family or even in the community because we know that we are not alone when life becomes tough 🙂

And another thing I like about her is that she shared with us her second poem in their native language Bahasa, which explained togetherness.

And finally – Matthew Edeh Sunday. It’s a great pleasure to watch his video recording all the way from Nigeria. We appreciated the effort he exerted just to share his two poems titled “The Poetic Cosmos” and “Invisible World”, even though he had never done video recording before.

My favourite part of the program, aside from listening to the all the amazing poems, is the Question & Answer portion where I invited all the readers to come forward and to get to know them better. One of the audience asked them how social media can affect their writing and I would like to advice you to watch the recording of the program for you to listen to their answers.

The best advice I got from them when someone might criticize you is, “Grow a thick skin, not everybody likes you.”

We as human beings are constantly moving. We are searching for a place that we feel we are being accepted, being heard, being seen and being understood. Just be yourself. Whatever or wherever you might feel you belong, do your purpose and have an open heart and open mind to accept everyone’s differences. Always be humble and put love in everything you do. Because the root of every happiness and satisfaction is love. You belong!

It is the love and respect from each and everyone that is needed to feel each other’s belonging, whether you are part of a community, your own family and your friends – or even the nature – there is always this kind of feelings that can connect us all.

We would like to thank all the audience who come to the venue to watch, all the readers to sacrifice their time to share their poetry and most especially to singlit station for supporting us, so kindly, and also for the hardworking organiser of Carnival of Poetry, without you all this event wouldn’t be possible.

Written By
Julie Ann Tabigne

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