COLLECTION OF POEMS
- Mother Poems: English-Tamil Bilingual edition(Kuala Lumpur: Vicmani Enterprise, 2019)
This collection of ‘Mother Poems’ is a bilingual edition of 11 selected poems from the author’s two anthologies of poems, ‘Complicated Lives’ (Maya Press, 2016) and ‘Life Happens’ (Maya Press, 2017). The Tamil translation of the poems resonate well with the poet’s use of various Tamil words in the original English language poems. These poems deal with love and loss. The poet dwells on issues related to coming to terms with his mother’s aging, illness and eventual death.
- Life Happens (Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2017)
Simplicity of language and phrase-making are the hallmarks of Malachi Edwin Vethamani’s poetry. Feelings, events, non-events, happenings — Life Happens as a natural course of action — and he records them with sensitivity that only an acute poet’s eye and ear can do. More importantly, he explores important issues such as the complications and fractures of longing, heartbreak, exile and sexuality in Malaysian society.
- Sudeep Sen, author of EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House) and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor)
As with Edwin’s first collection, the poems in Life Happens are deceptively simple. Read with patience and reflected upon afterwards, they reveal a depth and richness of the poet’s engagement with life i.e. with people, and even with creatures and other alive things. The best poems in the collection deal with human encounters. The existential meanings that these poems point to do need to be pondered on. One may profit from doing so. In our time when it becomes the fashion for poets to write poems which are so highly intellectualized that they tend towards being intellectual/cultural puzzles rather than poems, and for poets to speak as ‘poems’ the first thing that enters their heads, we should be grateful for someone like Edwin who does the old fashion thing, writing simply and from the heart.
- WONG PHUI NAM, Malaysian poet, with several volumes of poetry beginning with How the Hills are Distant in 1968. An Acre of Day’s Glass: Collected Poems was published in 2006
Life Happens shows a poet at home with concerns social, personal, and philosophical. The childhood of memory and the hard work of immigrant labourers are painted in such vivid tones, while the personal poems are as sharp as spears. But the soul also selects his own society in the last part of the book, with its Joycean pairing of ‘the living’ and ‘the departed’. ‘When I’m gone’, the poet writes, ‘the waves will return/ the moon grow full./ When I’m gone/ my sorrow will cease/ my heart stilled’. But life will still happen for Malachi Edwin Vethamani, who with this collection shows he is at the height of his considerable powers as a poet.
- DANTON REMOTO is a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Ateneo and is the Dean of the School of Journalism as well as the President of The Manila Times College. He has published 20 books of poetry, essays, and fiction. In 2015, he received the National Achievement Award in Poetry from the Writers’ Union of the Philippines.
Here’s a natural poet who chooses to clarify rather than mystify, elucidate rather than obfuscate, educate rather intimidate his readers – which makes his work a genuine pleasure to read, never a chore. He writes about every day, down-to-earth matters – wry observations on being human, the ambivalence of family dynamics – each poem a poignant insight captured in simple, unboastful words. Indeed, what first drew me to Malachi Edwin Vethamani’s poetry was the fact that his crisp, precise and masterful syntax reminded me a lot of my own (but here the similarity ends, for we each focus on entirely different segments of the reality spectrum). A conscientious and dedicated educator, as well as an accomplished editor, Edwin is best described as a true missionary of letters.
- ANTARES MAITREYA, formerly known as Kit Leee, writer, musician, blogger, jungle chef. His publications include ADOI! (Times Books International, 1989) and Moth Balls: Scatological & Eschatological Poems (Magick River, 1994)
Book Reviews on Life Happens
Chuah Guat Eng’s on Life Happens in ‘The Star’, 7 October 2017
Danton Remoto’s on Life Happens in ‘Philstar’, 16 June 2017.
· Complicated Lives (Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2016)
Malachi’s Complicated Lives offers a rich throve of uncommon Malaysian stories distinctive in their local, Tamil and sexual passions, stretching from childhood to intimations of mortality, each poem another glimpse of ‘Reality [that] is but a shade of illusion.’
- Shirley Geok-lin Lim, winner of Commonwealth Poetry Prize and American Book Awards; Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Malachi Edwin writes sharp and vivid poems that capture with longing and heartbreak vistas long gone–the old Brickfields of memory, the ghosts of a love that dares not speak its name. Set against a rapidly changing Malaysia, these poems chart the country’s headlong rush to progress, as seen in kampongs vanishing and replaced with gleaming skyscrapers, as well as in relationships between people. Intimate, provocative, wild and beautiful, these poems are an important contribution to the house of Malaysian poetry in English.
- Danton Remoto, Research Fellow on Malaysian Literature, Asian Scholarship Foundation Professorial Lecturer, Ateneo de Manila University
Professor, poet, short story writer, Malachi Edwin is a familiar name in Malaysian literature, but his debut collection of poetry, Complicated Lives, is surely his most significant contribution to the tradition to date. What we encounter in the volume is poetry as memoir. Written in a simple, terse and delicate style, and confessional tone, the poems take us through a long, emotional journey into the speaker’s imagination and memory – sweet, bitter, warm, celebratory or agonising – and, true to the autobiographical style of poetry, ending with some reflections on death.
- Mohammad A. Quayum, Professor of English, International Islamic University Malaysia & Adjunct Professor of English and Creative Writing, Flinders University, Australia
Book Reviews on Complicated Lives
Wong Phui Nam book review of Complicated Lives in Asiatic, An International Journal of Asian Literatures, Cultures and Englishes, Vol 10, No. 2.
Cha Journal Book Review of Complicated Lives on 25 March 2018
See Tshiung Han’s book review of Complicated Lives in ‘The Star’ on 14 October 2016.
Article on Complicated Lives by Uthaya Sankar SB
Tamil Words in English Poems by Malaysian Indian Writers: Malachi Edwin Vethamani’s Complicated Lives
Uthaya Sankar SB
Article that discusses ‘Complicated Lives’ and ‘Life Happens’
In an article on Malaysian Poetry Leonard Jeyam discusses Malaysian poetry including my collections ‘Complicated Lives’ and ‘Life Happens’ in Jeyam, L. (2018). “[T]he most underrated genre”: Malaysian Poetry in English in the 21st Century. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 12(2), 125-136.
INDIVIDUAL POEM PUBLICATIONS
Reading Tennyson on Pandemic Days’ in Kitaab.com, 9 July 2020
‘Lockdown Afternoon Rain’ in Creative
Flight, Vol. 1, Issue 1, April 2020.
‘A Non-Feminist Moment’ in Business Mirror 26 August 2018 (Manila, Philippines)
‘Neighbours’ (6 poems) in Anak Sastra, 27, 33-39.
‘Loss’ in SARE: South EastAsian Review of English. 53(1), 24-29
‘Mother Poems’ Asiatic, An International Journal of Asian Literatures, Cultures and Englishes. 9(2), 265-273
‘One Christmas morning’, ‘Things Unsaid’, ‘Indiscretion’, and ‘Twenty Years on’ and ‘Nothing prepares You for love’ in Ghulam-Sarwar Yousuf (edt). Asian Centre Anthology of Malaysian Poetry in English. Singapore: Partridge Publication.
‘The New Road’ in Ruzy Suliza Hashim and Ghanakumaran Subramaniam (edts.) Reclaiming Place and Space: Issues in New Literatures. Bangi: Pusat Pengajian Bahasa dan Linguistik, University Kebangsaan, Malaysia.
`It Was a Wondrous Sight’ in C.Y. Loh and I.K. Ong (eds), SKOOB Pacifica Anthology No. 1: Southeast Asia Writes Back!. London: Skoob Books Publishing Ltd.
‘Adultery’, ‘Untitled (2 poems)’, and ‘The Vows’ in SARE Vol.25. Kuala Lumpur: MACLALS.
`It Was a Wondrous Sight’ in SARE Vol.23. Kuala Lumpur: MACLALS.