I promised to write the update on Poetry Reciting Night that happened two nights (on 28th April 2010) before we came back to Malaysia. Only today I managed to at least share about what happened during the poetry night. If you've been reading some of my previous entries, you definitely notice that I really love Poems. When I was a TESL student in PPP/ITM and UKM, literature is always my favourite subject for each semester. We had to study different types of literature like Asian literature, Classic literature (of course learnt about Shakespeare's masterpieces) and Modern Literature. All right, before I go too far discussing the literature (which maybe might bore some of you), let me go back to the topic of this entry.
That special night, we were lucky to have Prof. Haji Muhammad Salleh as our guest of honour. He was on his sabbatical leave and he planned to visit NZ and other countries like Fiji, Samoa and the others. Here is a little bit about him.
Born in 1942 Muhammad Haji Salleh is one of Malaysia´s leading poets. For more than 30 years, through his poetry, translations and literary criticism and theory, as well as by publishing the magazine Tengara, a journal of Southeast Asian Literature, he has been contributing to the literary and cultural life of Malaysia. Openly rejecting conformity to western cultural patterns, his poems often refer to myths and legends of the Malay oral tradition. Haji Saleh lives with his family near Kuala Lumpur.Muhammad Haji Salleh is one of Malaysia´s leading poets. Born in 1942 he studied in England and the USA, and since 1978 he has been a professor for Malaysian literature at the National University in Bangi near Kuala Lumpur. He has also made a name for himself as an essayist, cultural critic, translator and publisher of Tengara, a magazine for Southeast Asian literature.
The Poetry Reciting Event started with Prof. Hj. Muhammad Salleh introduced himself to us and he told us a little bit of his aim during his sabbatical leave. Then, all of us had our dinner together. Everybody brought some food to be shared and WUMA (Waikato University Malaysian Association) ordered Nasi Tomato as the main dish. While eating dinner, we mingled around and catched up with our friends. Prof. and another guest of honour that night (I can't remember his name. huhu) sat with our WUMA president, Izhar. While my two friends, Dr Fid, Rina and I were sitting at the next table with his wife. Somehow we managed to ask a lot of questions about Prof. to his wife.
The poetry reciting was started by the other honourable guest. He is one of the lecturers in Waikato University. He used to teach in Brunei and he is married to a Sabahan. His Bahasa Melayu was not bad at all when he attempted to recite a poem in BM. Though he struggled to pronounce some words, his efforts was really amazing. When it was time for Prof. Hj. Muhammad Salleh, he took the centre stage and brought along his netbook. His style of reciting was quite relaxing and audience friendly. He recited about three poems from his new poetry collections. The most interesting poem that he wrote was about "Durian". The poem was about a letter that he pretended to write to Thailand's King. He complained when Thailand had came out with the new hybrid of Durian when the strong smell has completely gone. All of his poems indicated that he wanted to say out loud his opinion about the latest issue in our society.
Right after Prof. ended his poetry reciting, one of our friends - Hanani took over the stage to recite a famous poem from another National Writer (Sasterawan Negara) A. Samad Said. The title of the poem was "Tetamu Senja". If any of you remembered, that poem was used as the lyrics in one of Kopratasa's song. Hanani recited the poem with a lot of emotions and high spirits. The last performances during that night were the singing session by a group called "Dr. Sazali's Brothers". (Dr. Sazali is one of Waikato Uni.'s lecturer who just joined the uni. since early last year). The band consisted of Dr. Sazali, Dr. Norwan (M.D.), Izhar, Along (one of Phd's student's son) and the lead singer was Jun. She sang two Dato Siti Nurhaliza's traditional songs and later she asked a duet partner to sing with her to sing the famous song in 90's "Doa Buat Kekasih" (originally sang by Ramli Sarip and Khadijah Ibrahim). Jun sang very well and the band was quite good in providing the music for her. Only during the duet, her duet partner was sometimes out of tune but we still enjoyed their performances. Before the event ended, Izhar as WUMA president gave some token of appreciations to all of the performers especially to our honourable guest, Prof. Hj, Muhammad Salleh.
As usual, we left the event, we had some more photo shoots. Some of my friends took the opportunity to take some photos with me as they said they might not able to see me again before I left Hamilton, NZ. Of course we also took a picture with Prof. Meeting him was one of the sweetest moment in my life. He is truly a great poet with a great mind!