Poems in a pandemic | The Star

A LIVE, online audience was entertained by the rhythms of spoken word poetry as students from different Malaysian schools participated in a “Youth Poetry Slam” recently.

Organised by Rafflesia International School, Kajang, the event was created to enable students to give voice to their feelings about environmental issues.

Titled, Words for Our World, young poets across three sections – junior, senior and group categories – delivered dynamic, high-energy performances that focused on issues such as climate change and socially responsible actions.

Streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, the event opened with a poem by the host of the show, Cat Brogan – a BBC Edinburgh International Festival Poetry Slam Champion and an English teacher at the school.

With her Rafflesia Year 11 co-host Twilight Siew, Brogan guided the performers and audience through the live show which included performances from the judges – Malaysian National Poetry Slam Champion and The Creative Curry Podcast host Dhinesha Karthigesu, MY Poetry School co-founder Emily Thomas and Lee Jiin Woei of Xiamen University Malaysia.

Dhinesha said the competition left him in awe of the calibre and ability of those involved.

“I left excited, inspired and completely invigorated. If these are the leaders of our future, we are in good hands.

“Rafflesia International School should be proud and commended for helping to usher in a new wave of inter-school competition in light of the lockdown and pandemic.”

In the closely contested junior category, Marc Hiew of Rafflesia, was declared the winner after a dynamic recital of his poem.

In the senior category, Teioh Nuan Ning from HELP International School was announced the winner, with Wan Taufik Hidayat Wan Mokhter from Sekolah Dato’ Abdul Razak, Seremban, named the runner-up.

Nuan Ning said it was extremely comforting to be able to share and listen to the poetry of others living through a “very uncertain time” as the country was under a conditional movement control order (MCO) when the event was held.

In the group category, an inspired family performance of a powerful poem by sister-brother duo Tharani and Ishwaar Alagesan (pic) took the honours.

Rafflesia principal Andrew Crompton said the school was delighted to welcome young poets from different areas to the event.

“We were excited to explore our creative potential in technology as well in poetry. While we might be physically distant, it was uplifting to be socially and culturally connected, ” he said in a press release.

A total of 22 school students from across the Klang Valley participated in the event held on May 20.

There are two individual categories for students aged 14 above and those aged 13 and below, as well as a group category where up to five people can form a team.

During the two-hour event, viewers were encouraged to comment and cheer the young poets to simulate the atmosphere of a live audience.

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