What Is Spoken Word Poetry In Malaysia?

What Is Spoken Word Poetry In Malaysia?

Spoken Word Poetry Malaysia

Spoken Word Poetry Malaysia.

The Spoken Word Poetry scene is coming to Malaysia by storm but it remains unnamed and unidentified. Spoken Word Poetry in Malaysia has been in the works for quite some time. Open mics are becoming commonplace. Every other week there’s an event for you. Go to any cafe that has a soundsystem and they’ll probably have an open mic. An example of this would be Jalan Dalam at Mikro. They have a show every month with dates that suit the community they serve. Partnering up with Mikro, Spoken Word Poetry, Music, Rap, and Lightplay find common ground and play together.

Spoken Word Poetry Malaysia

The current scene is active with events and workshops. These events aim to improve and develop the skills of the poets that are in the community.

These Spoken Word Poets come from different backgrounds and ethnicity. These poets speak through their poems of their culture, race and current happenings. They are following the footsteps of the poets before them in carrying a conversation of their times.


Photo by FlatLinedPhotography


Some poets choose to just simply write about heartbreak, ache and all forms of internal organ anomaly. Spoken Word in Malaysia ranges in type as wide and diverse as its cuisine.

Open Mics in Malaysia

You can find Spoken Word Poets at multiple open mics and shows. These events are run by small yet active spoken word poetry groups such as Makhluk Seni, Jack It, Speakcity Asia, and Rabak among many others. Actively engaging the communities they serve, together they both grow with and develop together.

Shows can range from the good ol’ Open Mic to theatre performances and ensembles. An example of this would be

Malaysia Throws Herself A Birthday Party by Theatre Three Sixty and Speakcity Asia

Theatre ensemble Crossroads at Revolution Stage


MATi show(Music.Arts.Theatre.inspire) by Makhluk Seni


Makhluk Seni is currently working on Perjumpaan Makhluk Seni’s. These are gathering of art inclined people that wants poets to jam together with other art groups and explore what can and could be. They are working on bringing it up to a festival level, with 2 M.A.T.i shows in the past two years. M.A.T.i or Music.Arts.Theatre.inspire is a show where these different artforms come together on the same stage. Mati in malay means death. The idea is that you should share your art before you die so that your art lives on in the heart of others. Lights are used as cue’s. No introduction is given. The show just starts and it’s non-stop performances. They are currently looking for acts to showcase in their show. PMS’s would be the classes and meet sessions they hold before the M.A.T.i show.

Potential Dangers with Spoken Word Poetry and Open Mics

Quite a few poets bring up a current problem of bleeding on stage. Bleeding on stage or being too naked on stage is dangerous. It is when a poet chooses to divulge too much personal info in the form of a poem. Performed at an open mic with a ill equipped emcee can be potentially dangerous. It strikes a resemblance to Confessional Poetry,

Dangerous poetry will hurt audiences. Community leaders and event organizers put in a lot of work to make things work. All organizers agree that they do not want to censor their poets. Some say this would be gatekeeping. How do you even gate keep when there isn’t even a fence.


Poets are suggested to learn to write poems of empowerment and healing. The commodifying of pain should not be a the go to process for a writer. Poets need to equip themselves with the necessary skills when it comes to this form of writing. Exploring other aspects of poetry and its other uses also helps expand a poets repertoire.

Another option for poets who are looking to expand their writing is too look at different scenes and different processes. Performers use spoken words to incite feelings in quite a variety of scenes. Some poets come from the Stand Up Comedy scene. Poets such as Aiman Azri fall into this cross section of the venn diagram. He uses his measure for comedy to craft his spoken word pieces. Umar Aziz comes from the otherside of this intersection, working together music, comedy and simple theatrics to flesh out his poetic pieces.

Berbaloh, Competitions And Slams

Umar Azizi explores other forms of competition and he is currently working on a competition format he calls Berbaloh. Berbaloh is based of the Malaysian poetical format of Berbalas Pantun which is traditionally performed at weddings but is also a fun pastime. Working to make it both accessible and more approachable, Berbaloh is an english version of Berbalas Pantun and it’s preliminary form does away with the strict yet ingenious rules of Pantun and instead prioritizes the exchange. 1 vs 1. Team battles. As long as a conversation can happen, you have enough poets for a Berbaloh session

Berbaloh; A Spoken Word Poetry Format

All participants must come to an agreed upon topic. Poets get into teams. 20 minutes for writing. 3 minutes to perform their piece. Teams then have 10 minutes to write their team piece. Pieces are judged by the audiences on a scale of 1 to 10, with consideration for Content, Creativity and Craft.

Spoken Word Poets In Malaysia

Spoken word is often free verse. Rhyme schemes, wordplay, and other poetic devices are used by poets for very specific intended purposes. Sometimes purely aesthetic, other times for just an extra punch of meaning through the use of double-triple entendres. Poets such as Zhafir makes use of these freely in his works. His piece “Introduction” is always a crowd pleaser. Ariff writes on current topics and things he’s passionate about. Dhabitah sounds like wisdom in the body of innocence. Nana is a poet who combines her theatre experiences, craft, DIY, singing and poetry together.

Spoken word poets in Malaysia come from different walks of life. Refugee writers to international poets have made Malaysia their place to be for conversations and poetry. Spoken Word will travel. A group called Poets Passport engaged different groups in cyberjaya. The top of a mamak stall was home base.They’ve recently made a resurgence with events catered to university students and poetry competitions. The CEX Slam is one such event. Pitting Singaporean poets against the Spoken Word Poets of Malaysia in a poetical exchange. Jamal Raslan says “The points are not the point, the point is poetry”. Competition spirit is simple. Bring your best foot forward. It is a dance like no other.

Types of Spoken Word Poets In Malaysia

There are many Spoken Word Poets in malaysia but even more so poets. Poets practicing traditional poetry in the form of pantun. Noise Poetry poets. Poets who perform solely on the page. There currently isn’t a directory that contains the details and listings of all the poets who currently practice what form of poetry they do. Visual poets play with blackout poetry, page poems, and page composition. Musically inclined poets match their spoken word pieces to music. There’s even a conversation to mix cooking live with poetry.

It’s something that would greatly benefit the poetry community and is something that a few groups are attempting in their own capacity. Makhluk Seni is compiling a directory of performers. A few spoken word poets have signed themselves up there and if you are reading you can do so here.

Spoken Word Poetry And You

Anyone can be a spoken word poet. There are many platforms available to you. If going to events is not your speed, there are online forums and pages in which you can participate in writing prompts and post online. Blogs such as Tulis.co is a site where you can post your poems and a reader base specifically for poetry and stories will be there for you. Makhluk Seni twitter recently released 30 days worth of prompts and compiled the works into an online zine available for free here.

Classes are also available. Spill The Ink is a monthly poetry writing class and its spearheaded by Afi Noor, a seasoned and travelled poet and they showcase feature poets from If Walls Could Talk. Poets like Jamal Raslan, Azam Rais and Sheena Baharudin run writing circles if you invite them to meet your community. If you need an event catered to you and your community, Makhluk Seni is aiming to do just that and connect you to other groups through their Perjumpaan Makhluk Seni movement.

The Spoken Word Poetry “scene” in Malaysia is growing and learning as it goes. In this growth its bound to be messy and passionate and at some times, rather confusing. Don’t worry. Just head on over to an open mic near you, and strike up a conversations with the poets there. They will be more than happy to see you there.

Posts created 1

Leave a Reply

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top