Poems from Bali to Burma

Unspun enjoyed himself thoroughly at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival over the past week. He also had a great time moderating a session on Pamphlet Poetry featuring three poets: Ed Maranan from the Philippines, Cyril Wong from Singapore and Abe Barreto Soares from East Timor.


(From left: Unspun’s alter ego, Ed Maranan, Cyril Wong and Abe Soares. Photo taken by Unspun’s partner, who did not laugh at him as he was struggling to sound intelligent in front of smarter people)

Since the subject was Pamphlet Poetry and whether poetry is an art form could influence politics Unspun felt it was appropriate that the three poets started off the session by what they had to say about the Burmese situation through their poetry. E Responded with a Haiku, Cyril responded by modifying a poem of his and Abe responded with one of his poems (the man writes in Tetum, English, Portuguese and Indonesian and also sings – amazing fellow!)

This is their contribution (Only Cyril has responded so far as Ed and Abe are still traveling – Unspun will post their poems when they send it through).

Practical Aim
by Cyril Wong

After great pain, what would the body
learn that it does not already know

of relief? When that fire-truck has raged
past, what do I rediscover about silence

except that I would always miss it?
Do trees mind if it is the same wind

that passes through their heads everyday?
After the mall is completed, must we

remember the field it now inhabits
where we raced each other as children?

If my lover forgets to wake me with a kiss
a second time this week, should I worry?

Does solitude offer strength over time, or
is denial of it the only practical aim?

After the earthquake, would it matter
if no one saw two dogs from different

families approaching each other
without suspicion, then moving apart?

As the workers wash their faces hidden
by helmets that beam back the sun,

should they care about the new building
behind them beyond a fear of it falling?

If my mother cannot see how else to be
happy, is it enough that she may lie

in bed, convinced God watches her sleep?
What happens after the monks stop flowing

like a river along the wound that is Burma?
After deep loss, what does the heart

learn that it has not already understood
about regret? When all light finally

forsakes a room, do we take the time
to interrogate the dark, and to what end?

6 thoughts on “Poems from Bali to Burma

Add yours

  1. Bang, Indon ni bangsa yang kurang bijak. Tak faham sejarah dan kurang faham agama agaknya. Tuhan tu dah buat negaraq-negara tertentu dengan rakyat masing-masing. Bangsa Melayu untuk Malaysia, Indon untuk Indonesia, Americans untuk US dan sebagainya. Mereka ni asyik cakap serumpun. Kepala hotak mereka serumpun. Mereka tu bangsa yang mundur tak macam kita di Malaysia. Dia orang ingat Malaysia ni boleh share-share ke? Tak boleh! Mereka datang cari rezeki sini dah nak minta PR. Tak bagi, nak saman. Mana boleh, Bang. Saya harap Abang akan menyiarkan komen ini untuk dibaca oleh Mamat dan Minah Indon yang masih tak sedar diri tu. Lagi satu saya nak cakap. Pasal seekor coach yang kena pukul, heboh satu dunia. Pasal mereka datang sini, merompak, merogol, mencuri tu tak apa ke? Apa ni, Indon tu kalau tak bijak pergi sekolah, jangan nak tunjuk pandai. Mungkin jugak cikgu-cikgu mereka pun bodoh sama. Abang jangan nak terpengaruh dengan mereka yang begitu tolol tu Bang. Kita rakyag Malaysia, bijak, bijak belaka


  2. Mudah-mudahan anda dan bangsa anda menjadi bangsa yang termulia dan terbijak di dunia seperti apa yang yang anda impi-impikan selama ini …. Saya yakin negara anda nanti akan menjadi “Negara Superpower” mengingat penduduknya pintar-pintar (tidak seperti kami yang bodoh-bodoh ini) dan juga menjadi “Ketuanan” bagi bangsa-bangsa lain yang lebih rendah dibandingkan bangsa anda ……

    Malaysia memang BOLEH … Hahahaha…


  3. ???? i really don’t know wat to say!! if u guys look at above comments its merely a husband-and-wife dog-and-cat fight with da husband is mad like hell and the wife is “merajuk” and gonna gets old early

    can’t both of u use ur head for once?? shame on both of u though

    @ Kamaul, @ Who Dare… @ Ahmad: Dei! Salah kamar-lah. Your points have nothing to do with the subject of the thread. Any future irrelevant postings will be deleted.


  4. Dear Unspun,

    I am a volunteer contributor at Global Voices (http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/), a non-profit web site that aggregates, summarizes and amplifies the activity in the global blogosphere.

    We also post multimedia content, and I would love to feature your photo of Abe Barreto Soares at the Ubud Writers festival in an article I am writing for the site.

    May I have your permission to do so? Full credit and links to the original source of the images will of course be included.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,
    Sara Moreira

    Global Voices


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: