Thursday, August 12, 2010

Malaysia's Unsung Poet Laureate

Do you know that Malaysia has got her very own Nobel Prize nominee, for Literature, in 2005?

You would expect such monumental achievement from our Bolehland to create tremendous bruhaha and would landed him a Datukship. The fact that there is little local media interest on him is curious, even the Mat Rempit North Pole Free Fall Expedition was better celebrated for the achievement, apparently, would inspire the masses. The Nobel Prize nomination came from the Philippines and the USA. Back then, only The Sun carried the story on our first ever Nobel Prize nomination.

Who is the unsung poet laureate?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, well, long before blogs, Raja Petra and Malaysiakini, there was Cecil Rajendra, a passionate activist who firmly believes in the pen being mightier than the sword.

He is much respected for his pioneering work as a human rights lawyer and environmental activist as well as his poetry. He named his fight for Orang Asli's right to own their land as his biggest legal rights achievement. His first collection of poems was published in England in 1965 when he was still a law student in Lincoln’s Inn, London. Using his talent to full measure, he tackles society's ills such as environmental destruction, poverty, oppression, corruption, racism and injustice with persistence and dedication. Not as widely read in Malaysia, Cecil Rajendra’s poetry has travelled far and wide, cited by WWF, UNICEF, UNESCO, National Geographic and Amnesty International.

Asked if he finds himself toning down as he ages in an interview, he replied that he sincerely hopes not. Many years ago, he answered the question in a poem:

As I grow older
I grow wilder
not wiser
I respect nothing
do not talk to me
of the temperance
of middle-aged men
I have consigned
Caution to the wind.
We were just informed yesterday that Cecil Rajendra will be reading parallel to our next installment, a massive collaboration to commemorate the birth of the independent and sovereign state of Malaysia in 1963.

*nerd mode switched ON*

w00t! w00t!


What better excuse to join us this 16 September 2010 to celebrate the little, little things about Malaysia that fires hope.

Yes, we're secretly patriotic. ;op

We'll be seeing you soon? Post-It the date, y'all!

Have a blessed Ramadhan, everyone. :o)


1 comment:

Angelina Bong said...

Thanks for posting this..i definitely have to share it on my blog too..see u on Malaysia Day!!