Yesterday, we had to attend a talk given by a famous Malaysian poet. His name was Prof. Muhammad Haji Salleh. In two hours, he gave us a lecture about his experience in writing poems. Here are the things that he shared with us:
He told us about his travels to many countries around the world just to seek for some ideas and inspirations to write new poems from time to time. During his travels, he met a lot of people from different backgrounds, with different characters and different personalities and he befriended them all. They shared some ideas and creativity together. They exchanged each other's poetry. They did a lot of things together and most importantly, the travels seemed to be so meaningful to Prof. in the sense that he learned many new things from many those people, not just about poetry, about life too. Getting along with them said Prof., who were also writers and poets, made him happy as he said, "I love to be with them as I love to be in a circle of writers."
Some interesting facts about Prof. Haji Salleh; he can write both in Malay and English in which has turned him into an established author, poet, critic and also translator. He writes Malay poems more than English poems because Malay is his mother tongue and he loves the language with all his heart. Yet, he is also considered as an English author/poet as he composed many English poems too because according to him, he grew with the language. So, he claimed that English is also his language. Another reason why he also writes in English is because he wants to tell the people, especially the Europenas about the Malay literatures and prove that as Malays, we also have our own literature that we can be proud of, seems nowadays, not so many people would want or interested to talk about them. Another thing that Prof wants to prove to the Westerners is that amazing or great people, specifically writers and philosophers aren't just produced from the West, but they can be from any parts of the world. Great people can be among the Orang Asli or the aborigins, the Malays, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Indonesians, etc. At the same time, Prof also translantes and criticises the works of others as his supplementary jobs because he said that it's not enough to earn a living if we just end up being a poet. Tak lumayan sangat income jadi poet ni. I just paraphrased his saying. Lol.
He did tell us that he writes poems whenever he is; be it in the bus, in the car, in a room and most interestingly, he can even write his poems when he was caught in a traffic jammed. Amzing, right? I'm truly impressed with him. That makes him capable of being a good poet, which someday I would also love to do the same.
During Q & A session, my friend, Reyhan, did ask some questions. "Can you tell us a little bit about your experience writing your poems and what inspire you?" The only answer of his that I can remember; "When you write poems, always take time to edit it. Masalahnya dengan kita ni orang Melayu, kita tak suka edit puisi kita. Kita rasa bila kita dah tulis puisi tu sekali, itulah yang terbaik. Whenever you write poems, always ask other people's opinions about them. Say, your lecturers. They always welcome their students who seek for their advice in anything and they will simply help you if you ask their favor to check your masterpieces. Plus, you are also free to let your friends read and comment on your poems. That's how we learn and from there, we can easily improve our skill of writing." Another friend of mine, Kak Ida, asked him, "Prof, I just want to know why did you decide to stop writing in English?" He said, "That's a very a good question. Actually, I have my own reason why I decided not to write in English anymore. It has something to do with colonialism. You know, there's no doubt that English is a great language and everyone is free to utter the language, but without we realizing, this so-called great language has killed many other languages and silently it's killing our language too (Bahasa Melayu). Meaning to say, colonialism is still happening to us and knowing the fact that my mother tongue is almost perished by English and other language as well, hurt me so much and hence had convinced me that I should stop writing in English. However, I never stop other people, including my friends and collegues to continue writing in English. It's good anyway. Even I personally think that it's best to write about Malay literature in English, so that the Westeners could read and understand our works."
Prof. Haji Salleh also loves to collect things. He told us some of the things that he would buy and put them in his collection. They include typewriters, pens and notebooks which he got from many different countries that he had traveled to. It's proven that when one is truly obsessed or in love with something, he/she never minds to travel as far he could and to spend a lot of fulus in order to get it. The same thing happens to Prof and me myself too :)
Listening to his sharing has really inspired me. Honestly, I gained a lot of knowledge about poems writing from his experiences. I totally agree with him when he said that "to be a good poet/writer, we should sit in a circle of poets/writers too." (I actually paraphrased this also)
I should try this nanti.
... soon! Begheh sokmo!!