January 17, 2023, by Communications

A celebration of Malaysia’s literary artists

The literary arts and the English language play a crucial role in the development of a nation and its people. The literary arts are unique as it allows us to express complicated emotions, bridge differences, and resolve conflicts. Ultimately, it enables us to communicate better with one another.

UNM has always been a proud supporter of the literary arts, believing in its importance in one’s education and growth. The School of English (SoE) was recently invited to participate in the annual George Town Literary Festival in Penang, celebrating Malaysia’s literary talents and recognising their incredible pieces of work. It also presented the University with an opportunity to showcase the talents of our students in a welcoming space.

Malaysia has just as many undiscovered literary artists as there are established ones. Events like the George Town Literary Festival help uplift the local arts scene with the writers and poets within it. At the university, we recognise the importance of enabling aspiring artists to connect with like-minded individuals. Witnessing the celebration of one’s achievement can act as a catalyst to motivate rising talents in their journey.

Some of the highlights from the festival included seeing 11 of our final-year creative writing students being invited to do readings to a live audience and two of our professors launching their newest books!

UNM Assistant Professor, Dr Shivani Sivagurunathan, the writer of Yalpanam, launched two books titled Being Born and What Has Happened to Harry Pillai?: Two NovellasBeing Born is a collection of poems that celebrates journeys and the relationships between humans and nature, while What Has Happened to Harry Pillai?: Two Novellas unravels the topic of control, manipulation, and mental colonisation.

Dr Shivani reading her newest book, Being Born, to a live audience

Fellow UNM alumnus and Emeritus Professor, Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani, launched his most recent body of work called Rambutan Kisses. The book consists of an array of poems, bringing a variety of topics from deep within, discussing emotions, experiences, and tensions changing rapidly in the 21st century, all expressed in a Malaysian Indian voice.

We are proud of the local arts scene at the School of English and aim to provide our students with more exposure to the industry through networking opportunities like these.  As they develop their skills and build friendships along the way, we hope it also helps them establish themselves as budding artists.

Events like the George Town Literary Festival will help pave the way for incredible things like innovation, communication around complex subjects, and an overall greater appreciation for the arts. As the year progresses, we look forward to providing exciting events like these for our students and staff!

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