The Second Migrant Workers Poetry Competition was held on 13 December 2015 at the National Library.
It was standing room only with over 200 people attending - a much bigger crowd than last year. This year there were over 74 entries - 65% female, many mothers. The 14 finalists included Banglar and Chinese construction workers and domestic workers, from Indonesia, India, the Philippines, China and Bangladesh.
I sat next to one of the finalists, Rolinda from Bacalog City, who read her poem to her seven year old daughter, My Wish, from a frog exercise book given to her by the 5 year old son of her Singaporean employers.
Invisibility and transformation were some of the themes mentioned by Shivaji Das, one of the organisers, Kirpal Singh, one of the judges, and Debbie Fordyce from TWC2.
Alvin Pang, another of the judges - whose poem Made of Gold, concerns the deceptions involved in the migrant worker experience, said about the poetry we heard, “We cannot even pretend to begin to know what’s going on. We can only begin to understand the blindness that has afflicted us for so long, so much that we do not know and do not see among us.”
Stories continue to swirl around us, obscured by images of ourselves ...