Young Poets Network Takeover By Poets From Malaysian Borneo

Throughout August, Young Poets Network (The Poetry Society’s global online platform for poets aged 25 and younger) is partnering with Borneo Bengkel and Wordsmiths of Kuching, two multidisciplinary writing and artistic collectives based in Malaysian Borneo.

This international programme will see young poets from across the globe take part in writing activities and learn more about what it’s like to be a poet in Malaysian Borneo.

The project emerged as part of the legacy of About Us, a project that explored lots of ways life across the world is connected, with the support of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. In the spirit of connection, The Poetry Society is collaborating not only with Borneo Bengkel and Wordsmiths of Kuching, but also with George Town Literary Festival in Malaysia, to run this project for young poets and to co-commission new writing later in the year. The Poetry Society thanks the British Council for making this collaboration possible.

The poets taking part in this partnership are Adi HJ, Angelina Bong, Bethany Luhong Balan and Maclean Patrick.

Over August, they will be creating:

  •       An online writing workshop for 14-25s on the Malaysian poetic form of the pantun, and the European version of the pantoum – sign up here
  •       An online writing workshop for 14-25s on visual and collage poetry, inspired by Malaysian motifs – sign up here
  •       A writing challenge for poets aged 25 and younger, showing them how to write pantun inspired by photographs – submit you entry now
  •       A feature exploring code-switching and multilingualism in poetry – read here
  •       And this introduction of them and their work

Participation is free and open to young poets based all over the world, though young poets in Malaysia are particularly encouraged to take part.

Visit Young Poets Network and subscribe to its free mailing list to find out more about this exciting new collaboration.

Pantun & Pantoum Workshop for Young Poets with Angelina Bong
Malaysian Motif Visual Poetry Workshop for Young Poets with Angelina Bong: Discovering Senses & Places

About The Poetry Society

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”. Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has more than 5,000 members worldwide and publishes the UK’s leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review, which has been published since 1912. With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages. As well as the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, The Poetry Society runs the National Poetry Competition, one of the world’s longest-running and most prestigious prizes for an individual poem. The Poetry Society also ran the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry – the prize founded and supported by Carol Ann Duffy during her 10 year tenure as Poet Laureate.

About The Young Poets Network

Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society's online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. The platform features poets and poetry, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We also bring you the latest news and ideas from the writing world, and a list of competitions, magazines and writing groups which particularly welcome young writers. Young Poets Network is for everyone interested in poets and poetry – whether you’ve just started out, or you’re a seasoned reader or writer. Teachers and parents might find it a useful resource, too.

About Wordsmiths of Kuching

Wordsmiths of Kuching is a spoken word community based in the city of Kuching, Sarawak, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Active since 2014, the collective works to provide a stage to promote the art of spoken word as well as provide avenue for spoken word artists to contribute their work to an interested audience. They work together with various other initiatives in creating space for spoken word among Malaysians. Notable collaborations have been commission pieces for European Union National Institutes for Culture – European Day Language in 2021, collaboration with Borneo Bengkel & the British Council UK for the North-East: Lingua Franca project, Mercy Malaysia “Berani Bersama” 2020 Online Spoken Word performances, contributing written pieces for the George Town Literary Festival 2022 as well as participation in various festivals. 

About Borneo Bengkel

Borneo Bengkel is a platform founded in 2017 with the aim to unite creatives from throughout the regions of Borneo: namely Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia), Kalimantan (Indonesia), and Brunei. Through our activities we explore identity, culture and creative expression through the eyes of artists, filmmakers, social activists, researchers, and cultural practitioners. Bengkel, meaning ‘workshop’ in Malay, reflects Borneo Bengkel’s core emphasis on knowledge exchange. Their most recent collaborations include sem/bunyi, an audiovisual exhibition and spoken word performance as part of the George Town Literature Festival 2022, and Making Noise at the Tamu Tanah & Air organised by Borneo Heart in Kuala Lumpur (2023), a two-day exhibition and art market which included sharing sessions, cultural exchanges, and spoken word performances. 

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