The beautiful poems by Sarawakian author Kulleh Grasi has been recognised again!
Earlier this year, his book of poems called 'Tell Me, Kenyalang' made it to the longlist of America's Best Translated Book Awards 2020.
This time, the book has made it to the longlist of the National Translation Awards (NTA) in Poetry and Prose.
A very special collection of poems
According to a report by Malay Mail, this award is given yearly to translators who have made outstanding contributions to literature in English.
The book was translated by literary translator and writer, Pauline Fan.
While being longlisted is enough to celebrate, it is also additionally exciting for Malaysia as Kulleh's book is the only Southeast Asian publication to make it to the list.
Another unique attribute of 'Tell Me, Kenyalang' is that it is part of a small number of contemporary works translated in English from Malay and it is also the first book in a long time to include Malaysian indigenous languages as well!
Basically, it is a literary treasure!
A dream come true
Speaking to Malay Mail, Kulleh said that it had always been his dream to see Sarawakian stories being noticed in the international platform.
“Writing stories of our homeland in the form of poetry is a beautiful medium for us to share our culture with our audience.
“One of the poems titled Akui which means 'me' in Kayan language is close to my heart as it resonates with myself as an indigeneous person in Sarawak and makes me proud of who I am,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fan also shared about her interest in translating the poems.
“His poems are contemporary compositions rooted in intonations and structures that imbue a sense of immediacy and power that resonates far beyond the page.
“Also, Kulleh’s poetry speaks from a perspective and in a voice that has been almost absent in Malay literature which is that of the indigenous poet, incorporating his reality through his own languages," she said.
She also expressed her thanks to the New York based publisher Circumference Books for bringing 'Tell Me, Kenyalang' to the world.
We feel like running out and getting the book right now.
Congratulations Kulleh and Fan!