Kafez

Literary

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

A Personal Tribute to the Malaysian English Literary Writing That Sparkled for me as a Girl!

I miss the fiction and non-fiction that is lost to me...the Malaysian English writing of old and when you think about it, the not-so-old.

Where fluency fringed with all the right tools of the language flowed without question...it was only the intensity of how powerful a portrayal, an image could dare strike itself on an empty mind's canvas or words party with a song-and-dance in the heart.

I grew up as a little girl with these kind of fiction to guide and inspire me.


Where prose sang round a campfire and danced in the streets. And where today, English literature in America, England and Australia, still celebrate the same festive air for me with carnivals and fireworks for my library.

Yet I continue to miss sorely and deeply, this category of Malaysian English-language writing.
A category that commanded a distinct style laced with courage, fortitude and a vivid display of emotion.

When I recall authors and poets who were my forgotten heroes and yet not quite because they are still very much in existence today, with the writing of literature, what quickly comes to mind are prominent Malaysian English-language literary icons like Rehman Rashid, Kit Leee (Pictorial Bio) & Text Bio Adibah Amin, Professor Lloyd Fernando, Kee Thuan Chye, KS Maniam, the late Lee Kok Liang and the poets, Cecil Rajendra and Wong Phui Nam. These amongst several others. Their collected works hover like teardrops leaking from distorted shadows. A gentle trickling and soothing reflection of what was with regards to the writing of English literature in Malaysia.

They were a few of the stalwarts of our English literary scene for several years after independence from
the British in 1957. I salute them like a statue in the dark. I stay humbled by the beauty, inspiration and influence they proved for my own dreams and for the craft of my own prose and I say thank you.
They didn't just come of age.
They were always of age but these were not noisy, chest-banging , look-at-me-I'm-a-writer, writers. The word wannabe didn't exist. They were purely writers (journalists, poets, playwrights & storytellers) and they wrote anyway no matter the vision or the painful cost of that call. They stayed perfumed roses in the garden, ripples in the water, chugging sailboats in the ocean....

Writing furiously with passion and intensity and driven only by love and dedication to their art, they wrote and created enough material to leave a roomful of literary treasures for Malaysia. An engaging intricately-woven handloom of philosophical thought and reflection.

I suddenly remembered with something of a start yesterday, how much I missed this kind of classy writing and fiction/non-fiction that held a culture, wonderment and rhythm all its own.


They too are a precious memory, hidden in the firelight.


Pioneers to a history of what will always hold the present and the future. You cannot forget or discard history when they remain to remind us that they were there first, are still there and without them, what else of the rest may perhaps, prove impossible to be.

Let us remember this with reverential gratitude when we list names in the Malaysian english writing literary scene today, with pride and yet what is sometimes sadly obvious to me; a somewhat pompous youthful abandonement.

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