The crowd was enchanted and captivated by the reading of poems and short stories of celebrated Malaysian poet and author Professor Malachi Edwin Vethamani at the WOU main campus today.
Prof Malachi’s poems transported readers to life growing up in Brickfields, celebrating Christmas with family, reminisces and longings for friends and loved ones, contemporary culture, incidents of national significance, and other real-life situations.
In her welcome speech, WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Educational Technology) Prof Zoraini Wati Abas hoped that the “Reading & Conversation” session with Prof Malachi would spark a passion for poems and develop an admiration for English Literature.
She said, Prof Malachi, whom she has known since the late 1980s, was the first Dean of WOU’s School of Education, Languages and Communications (SELC). He is currently a Professor of Modern English Literature at the School of English, University of Nottingham Malaysia.
Prof Malachi started the evening by reading three poems. First was ‘I Will Text You’ which speaks of the current culture of texting rather than speaking, followed by ‘A New Beginning’, both taken from his second publication titled “Life Happens”. Next was the tragic poem ‘MH17’ from his first published collection of poems titled “Complicated Lives”.
His friends took turns to read poems from his collections. WOU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel evoked feelings of longing as she recited ‘One Christmas Morning’ and ‘Those Grand Womenfolk’, while David Teoh Seng Aun delivered ‘It was a Wondrous Sight’ and ‘The Vows’.
Adeline Cruz spoke of ‘Farewell, Lovely Flower’ and ‘Voices’, and Yee Heng Yeh read ‘Beautiful Butterfly’ and ‘Things Come to a Head’.
Lucille Dass recited the poignant ‘Maternal Moments’, which resonated with her soul as she, while in her teens, was at the bedside as her mum passed away. She also entertained the crowd with her delivery of excerpts from Prof Malachi’s collection of short stories, in which the author explores conflicts between family and sexuality that are typical in contemporary Asian societies.
The reading session concluded with Prof Malachi reciting ‘Still Brickfields’, ‘Boyhood Street Buffet’, ‘Mr Will-Have-to Do’, ‘Words for the Lonely’, and ‘Speak of Now’, all of which captured his astute observation of people and happenings.
SELC lecturer Arathai Din Eak then engaged the poet and short story writer in conversation, getting him to open up about his love for reading and poetry from young, and his desire to share what was lost, like the ‘old’ Brickfields, with his sons and the younger generation.
Over 250 attended the event organised by the SELC, including former Dean Dato’ Dr Santhiram Raman, current Dean Prof Balakrishnan Muniandy, trainee teachers from Institute of Teacher Education (IPG) Tuanku Bainun and IPG Penang, students from SMKA (P) Al-Mashoor, and staff and students of WOU.
Several publications of Prof Malachi were on sale and people queued for the book signing and to take snapshots with the poet.