2019 Winners' Interviews 

Malay Category

Find out more about our winning poets and the inspiration behind their writing and works!

Irfan Ezwandy

Winning Poem: "Dada Langit" (10 to 14 Years Old, First Prize)

1. When did you first encounter poetry?


When I first encountered poetry, it was during secondary 1, where I had to learn English Literature as a subject. I was exposed to different kind of english poems and I also learned how to read a poem and study them. My interest in learning poems started to expand which tempted me to choose Malay Literature and English Literature as subjects for my O levels! Right now, I love poetry so much, especially english poetry! But, this does not mean that I dislike Malay poetry. I think Malay Poetry has alot of meaning in it and, it has helped me improved on my Malay language tremendously. 


2. Who or what inspired you to start writing your own poems?


Since young, I loved music so listening to music is like an everyday thing for me. As I get older, I start to appreciate music lyrics and love them. As a result, i started to write my own song lyrics in 2018 which, when i look back, really kicked off my passion for poems or poetry in general. Moreover, poems are sometimes an inspiration for my songwriting. Even though most of my song lyrics are English, it did not stop me from writing a Malay Poem (of course with the help of my Malay Literature teacher!). I used the same skills from songwriting, applying them when I was writing the malay poem that I eventually submitted for the National Poetry Competition. Thus, music was fundamentally the one that inspired me to write my own poems. 

3. What is the process of you coming up with a poem? 


For the Malay poem I submitted for the National Poetry Competition, which was titled "The Sky's Chest", did not take much process. Firstly, I will try to read poems from different poets that I followed on Instagram. Thus, while I was reading some, I came across a poem about the different weathers and how they affected us, plants, earth as a whole. Instantly, this gave me an idea as I knew that the different weather can represent different emotions. Here, I start connecting the different elements that made up the sky, like the sun, clouds, rain, thunder and so on with different emotions or what they represent. I then began writing the poem - I decided to have the happy side of the weather, like the sun and clouds, on the first paragraph, and the bad side, like the thunder, lightning, on the second paragraph. The last paragraph is basically saying that we should stay strong in any kind of weather because the sky is still here to stay. 


4. Do you see yourself writing stories/poems in the future?


Yes, I would love to write more poems or even stories. I love poetry! Thanks to the National Poetry Competition, it really gave me the confidence and reassurance that I needed for myself to know that I should not be afraid to try something new such as writing a poem. I was so used to just writing lyrics on my phone's notes app. Therefore, it was really surprising that I managed to secure the first place in the competition with a Malay poem! 


In the future, I would really want to write a romance story or basically a teenage life kind of book where I can share the different aspects in a teenagers' life, like how we go through anxiety, we fall in love, have crushes, lose friends, insecurities...maybe in the future i will work towards it! Also, I want to write more Malay poems as I feel like I should contribute something to my culture. Moreover, I want to venture into different topics such as technology or natural disasters in Malay poems. 


5. Do your friends like poetry as well? If not, what would you say to encourage them to start reading/writing poetry?


I have a couple of friends, mostly girls, who likes poetry. I think it is because poetry can sometimes help to become the words to our emotions when we do not know how to express them in words. I see most of them post poems, mostly sad poems, on their instagram stories. So, from what I observed,  they really like poetry.


I feel like what I can do to encourage them to start reading or write poetry is to post some poems on my Instagram story or encourage them to follow different poem accounts on instagram. But, in my opinion, listening to music can help introduce them into the poetry world, especially songs with really good lyrics!

Please reload