Time to embrace vibrant, youthful literary talents, says Malaysian poet


When she was growing up and devouring books, spoken word artist and poet Sheena Baharudin wished there had been such an event as the Kuala Lumpur Youth Literary Arts Festival (KLYLAF), which opens today today.

The inaugural festival, which takes place at Petaling Jaya Center for the Performing Arts (PJPAC), KuAsh Theater at Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Merdekarya at Petaling Jaya and virtual Zoom sessions from June 24-26, is a platform for young people to inspire young people, while creating opportunities and exchanges for people who are passionate about coins theatre, poetry and storytelling.

As a child, Sheena, born in Terengganu, assumed that a person had to reach a certain level of success to be heard and seen, that being invited to arts and literary events is one of the known markers that “you have done It is important to emphasize the importance of having and making space to nurture and be nurtured. So yes, if I had had the opportunity at the time to access a festival like this, I would would have jumped on it right away,” says Sheena, 39.

The KLYLAF, co-hosted by the Malaysian Institute for Debating and Public Speaking and MY Poetry School, is a local literary arts festival for young writers emerging from the scene. It aims to promote literary arts education, provide a platform for young and emerging writers, and create communities of writers for young people.

“It’s important because it sets up emerging talent and creates opportunities for collaboration, performance and building a sense of community, especially for those who have little or no access to the mainstream stage.” , she adds.

Sheena says that when she decided to perform her poems, a quick search online led her to a number of events and places in the Klang Valley.

“These are all physical events, much smaller. There were no festivals dedicated to youth like what KLYLAF aspires to,” she notes.

Sheena, a published poet, writer and educator, is an active voice on the local publishing scene. She is the author of poetry collections Rhymes to mend hearts (2013) and All the bodies we’ve kissed (2017).

“Poetry balances the emotional and the logical…there’s an intensive thought process that takes place when writing and consuming poetry, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since,” he shares. her love for poetry since her childhood.

For the KLYLAF festival, Sheena will also perform Sri at Nero Event Space at PJPAC (June 24, 8 p.m.) She wrote the spoken word piece and performed it for Langkawi-based arts group Suatukala’s musical theater show Pulau Sri in 2021, a contemporary retelling of the legend of Mahsuri.

“The poem itself is set during Mahsuri’s trial and represents her decision to finally speak out against the injustice done to her. To speak his truth.

She will also collaborate with Abdul Shakir, a multidisciplinary multimedia digital artist and one of the co-founders of Filamen, a digital arts collective.

Sheena is also a panelist at Virtual Beyond publishing: how do poets and playwrights make their work seen and heard? session (June 26) with other creative producers, namely Tung Jit Yang, Charissa Ong and Azam Rais.

Along with a series of exhibitions and mentorship programs, she also looks forward to new storytellers appearing during the Open Mic session at Merdekarya on June 25 and the KLYLAF Poetry Slam on June 26 (3-6 p.m.) at TTDI’s Kuash Theater, where young poets and spoken word artists will have their moment of glory.

In addition to helping organize this new and young festival, Sheena is working on her third poetry book and a spoken word feature film featuring collaborative works with actors, musicians, dancers and digital media artists. .

Additionally, art lovers can also listen to the voice of Sheena in Radio Teater Nasional’s new audio adaptation of Shakespeare. macbeth called Dato’ Seri, where she plays Datin Sri DiKajang, the local version of the infamous Lady Macbeth.


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