Several identities are scrutinised on this four-component poem via Malayan-born poet and critic Wong Yoon Wah

Several identities are scrutinised on this four-component poem via Malayan-born poet and critic Wong Yoon Wah 1

The tales told with Southeast Asia’s shadow puppets, higher regarded in the region as ‘Wayang Kulit,’ range from diversifying ancient epics to familiar, domestic sagas. This poem was written in 1977 when the Malayan-born Wong Yoon Wah (by way of then an outspoken scholar, critic, and award-triumphing creator) become appointed Director of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nanyang University – just as better training in Singapore turned into experiencing a period of upheaval. Here, Wong holds his own several identities up to the mild, and a candid experience of his internal self-shines through.


—The editors at Asymptote


i. Birth

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A sharp knife
pares the leather-based into form.
A ruthless ax
carves every nub of my individual.

With a dab of paint
I end up the singing, dancing doll
all of us love.

Ii. Family Background
Though I’m a shadow
performing in the night’s thriller,
I am a child of mild,
not anything without its beam.

The village’s earth is white gauze.
In this dirty world, I can’t locate myself.


I’ve never left a footprint
at the course.
I sing movingly
but by no means with my very own voice.

At home, I’m a shadow on the display screen.
On stage: a self you can see.

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Iii. Confession

Could you not take me?
for the person who loves fights,
schemes to be king,
or hankers
after Solomon’s princesses.

A shapeless thread holds each of my four limbs.
Being superstitious, I can’t refuse to be Destiny’s plaything.
The antique guy behind the scenes
has my voice in his arms.
Whether I’m crying or guffawing,
he decides.

Iv. Fate
If you pass behind the scenes
whilst the show ends,
you’ll discover us – heroes, ladies – all
in the fingers of the unpleasant puppeteer.

After we’ve been played,
our heads are taken down,
bodies folded and stacked once more
in his field, secured with string
wherein patiently, like prisoners,
we’ll wait to see the sun.

November 1977

Translated from the Chinese using Theophilus Kwek


Born in Malaysia, Professor Wong Yoon Wah has won Singapore’s Cultural Medallion (1986), Thailand’s South-east Asia Write award (1984), and the ASEAN cultural award (1993). He has posted more than 20 books and over 50 articles on modern and postcolonial Chinese literature and is presently senior VP of Southern University College, Malaysia.
Theophilus Kwek has posted three collections of poetry, most these days Giving Ground (2016). He gained the Jane Martin Prize in 2015 and the New Poets Prize in 2016. His translation of ‘Moving House’ by Wong Yoon Wah became positioned Second in this 12 months

From businesswoman of the yr to £five an afternoon in a shared house
Artist Samira Kitman dreamed of being the lady Bill Gates, but after fleeing from the Taliban, faces an uncertain destiny in the UK
She becomes voted Afghan businesswoman of the 12 months, praised by using Prince Charles, and has had her artwork displayed at the V&A museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington. She is the bankruptcy challenge in an ebook by using a former US president’s spouse celebrating women in Afghanistan and once declared her ambition to be “the lady Bill Gates in my country.”

But nowadays, Samira Kitman is dwelling on £5 a day in a shared house in Lancaster, northwest England, unable to paint, missing her own family, and desperate for the Home Office to grant her refugee repute so she can start a new existence in the UK.

The 32-12 months-vintage fled Afghanistan in January 2016 and claimed asylum the subsequent month on the grounds she couldn’t go back to her domestic in Kabul because she feared for her life. But her initial utility was refused, and now she is bracing for a crucial appeal subsequent week.

She advised immigration officers she has been centered by strangers she believed had been running for the Taliban, who threatened her in letters, calls, and emails and tried to kidnap her. They objected to her commercial enterprise activities, she stated, which covered the ownership of a crisp manufacturing facility and Maftah-e Hunar, an art basis which skilled younger, deprived girls to turn out to be artists and make a dwelling.

They did no longer just like the profile she changed into building the world over, after visits to Germany, Dubai, India, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. She even made an experience in the USA representing Afghan entrepreneurs, for the duration of which she met John Kerry, then secretary of state. Last yr she featured in We Are Afghan Women, an e-book through the former first woman Laura Bush.

By the time she left Afghanistan, the charity had taught greater than ninety young ladies calligraphy competencies and a way to make miniature artwork. In addition, in 2014, she led one of the Afghan crafts industry’s largest industrial commissions so far – supplying miniature painting, ceramics, and woodwork to the brand new 5-big name Anjum motel in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

They left Afghanistan, a circle of relatives of 9. They arrived in the UK a family of
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Kitman had a charmed existence in Kabul, living in a big house and taking everyday journeys abroad to show off her art. However, getting used to exist as an asylum seeker in Britain has been hard. “It’s no longer smooth to modify to the life I presently have, thinking about the easy life I had with my own family lower back domestic,” she advised the interviewer while she made her asylum claim.

She became by no means quick of cash in Kabul. Now she has to pick between eating or taking the bus to appointments in Lancaster and someplace else. When the Guardian met her, she had spent the previous night on a £eleven Megabus from London, where she had long gone to peer her legal immigration professional.

Kitman says she could now not have left her u. S. A. And the comforts she loved had she no longer certainly faced persecution and feared being killed.