First held in 2015 as part of the Cooler Lumpur Festival, the Migrant Poetry Competition has quickly established itself as one of the key events in the cultural calendar in Malaysia. The objectives of the competition are to provide a platform for mutual understanding between Malaysians and migrants while celebrating the literary talent of migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia. The event also seeks to promote greater tolerance of multi-culturalism and give a voice to refugees and lower skilled foreign workers.

The competition is organized by a group of volunteers under the Global Migrant Festival organizing committee led by Shivaji Das.

Different sections of Malaysian society have responded to the event enthusiastically as can be gauged by packed venue for the event and the reaction in social media. In 2019, the competition will reach out to refugees and a larger group of low skilled migrant workers to drive greater participation.


We have been conducting a similar event in Singapore that is supported by The Embassy of The United States of America in Singapore among other organizations. (http://www.singaporeworkerpoetry.com/)

The competition is conducted in two stages: prelims and finals. Calls for submissions were made in June. 10-15 entries will be selected from all the submissions and the winners are chosen from among these poems during the final which was held in September 29. The finals feature poetry recitals by the shortlisted workers followed by recitals of the translated versions of these poems in English. The judges for the contests have included noted local artists, writers and academics such as Sharon Bakar, Bernice Chauly, Carol Garcia, and Liew Siew Teip . The final event was open to the public and free.


Expected Program Line-Up

  1. 1)  Introduction and speeches by sponsors/ organizers/ supporters (15 min)

  2. 2)  Poetry recital (45 min) by shortlisted competitors in their mother tongue and in English

  3. 3)  Results and Awards – 15 Min

  4. 4)  Interactions with Judges and competitors (15 min)