Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Korean Student, Kim Chae Hoon is taking  Law in Hankuk University , Seoul Korea. He took Bahasa Indonesia dan Bahasa Melayu as his subsidiary. The video is a record of him presenting a paper on me.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Beside composing poems, I am also translating poetry from Malay to English and vice versa. More often I translated my work but there are also a few of others occasionally. The poem below is one of them.

It is a hard work but it pays off especially when my own translation into English could in turn attract other translaters who bring them to other languages . This is how my poems originally published in dual language Malay/English found their way into Spanish, Russian, French and Japanese. I am especially thankful to Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books (ITBM) for their function and hard work especially in finding publishing partners round the world. 

We should learn a lesson
From the  water garden,
from the flowers that never sink

We should  learn
from the lotus 
how the muddy stems
hold the flower above
Brilliant and lustrous,

We should all learn 
From the water lily
in the water so muddy
keeping white petals  in purity

Our path may be gloomy,
As the  river is sometimes  dirty
Let us learn from the water  plants
To uphold  our integrity.
Zurinah Hassan-Malaysia


Kita sepatutnya belajar
Dari bunga-bunga di kolam
Yang tidak pernah tenggelam.

Kita sepatutnya belajar
Dari kembang teratai
Yang berlumpur di tangkai
Namun tetap terjulang
Dalam warna cemerlang

Kita  sepatutnya belajar
Dari kuntum seroja
Yang tumbuh di kasar  selut
Dengan kelopak  putih lembut

Arus tak selalu tenteram
Sungai tak selalu jernih
Mari belajar dari bunga-bunga di kolam
Untuk mengapung dan bersih

Zurinah Hassan -Malaysia

Monday, October 24, 2016


My work/book Facing  Menghadap ke Pelabuhan/Facing The Harbour with Japanese translation has been presented to MR. TOYOTA of THE TOYOTA MOTORS and Prof. Dr. Matsuo Seiichi Prresident of Nagoya University. The books were presented by the translater Puan JAMILA MOHAMED (the beautiful lady in the picture. She had completed the excellent job with another translater, MR. NARITA. I felt so greatful to them. They are great translaters. The event took place in Nagoya, Japan.. 


IN JULY 2014 I was given the opportunity of reading the poems from this book in Tokyo International Book Fair . Accompanying me was Shiro , reading the Japanese version

Friday, October 14, 2016

HELLO THERE, I HAVE BEEN AWAY FROM THE BLOG FOR SO LONG. Now I hope to make a come back. How I wish I can keep up with my promise to write regularly here. 

Last night I attended the University Sains Malaysia Alumni Night. I attended the dinner because I was awarded the Tokoh Alumni for being Malaysia First Female national laureate. I have no pictures to go with the story. I try to get some to illustrate the blog. Anyhow for tonight I shall post a poem on the pollution of our river.

Klang River

Klang river is trapped
In garbage stacks
It has lost its track
Under the crowded shacks
The water brushing the floor
A spread on the squatter’s bed
As he lay his tired head
Until they come to shatter his dream
with a campaign to keep the city clean

By the river side
A beggar soaks his suffering
Dropping his coughs
dirt and grieve
Rolling under the bridge

Klang river
Drags on  its burden
At times throwing questions
 “ Man, did you not see yourselves
In my pollution
Did you not see your sin
In the fish that stinks”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Zurinah - En regardant le portAuteur : Zurinah Hassan

ISBN : 9782343037042
Les questions posées par la poétesse sont celles qui sont proches de son âme. Les émotions sont celles d’une femme douce, mais pas naïve. Femme de réflexion et excellente observatrice, elle distille et exprime ce qu’elle voit, pense, ressent et n’exprimerait jamais une impression négative qui se révèlerait amère pour son public.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Zurinah Hassan is National Literary Laureate of Malaysia. She is the 13th writer and the first female writer to be conferred the tittle of Sasterawan Negara  at a ceremony held on 26th of April 2016. The award is the highest award given to a writer in Malaysia.
Prior to this Zurinah Hassan had received Southeast Asian Writers Award (SEA Write Award in 2004 and Sunthorn Phu Poets Award, 2013.
Name                         :           ZURINAH BINTI HASSAN
Tittles:                        :           Sasterawan Negara (National Laureate), Dato’ Dr.
Date of birth:             :           13 June 1949
Place of birth:            :           Bakar Bata, Alor Setar, Kedah
Postal address:         :           No.2, Jalan Pinggir, 8/1L, Seksyen 8,
                                                40000 Shah Alam, Selangor.
E-mel                          : 
Blog                            :           zurinahhassan.blogspot Interprestasi (in Bahasa Melayu)
                                                zurinahhassan1306 On Malaysian Literature (in English)


ii.        Entered English School Sekolah Inggeris Sungai Layar, through an examination, Special Malay Class (1961-1963)
iii.           Secondary School, a Convent School at Sungai Petani (1964-1966)
iv.           Sultanah Asma Secondary School, Alor Setar (1967-1970)
v.            Universiti Pulau Pinang (then renamed  Universiti Sains Malaysia) graduated with Bachelor of Arts 1974 (1971-1974)
vi.           After optional retirement from government service, joined Universiti Putra Malaysia for Master of Arts degree. Graduated with Master of Arts . (1998-2001)
vii.         Continue to pursue a Doctorate degree  at Universiti Malaya. (2003-2008).


i.          Information Officer at Department of Information, Ministry of Information, Malaysia
ii.         Karyawan Tamu (Guest Writer) at Institut Tamadun dan Alam Melayu, UKM
iii.        Pakar Perunding di Akademi Pengajian Melayu, UM

1974.  Sesayup Jalan. (The Long Journe) Pulau Pinang: Publication Bureai, USM.
1977.  Di Sini Tiada Perhentian.(No Stopping Here) Kuala Lumpur: Pewarna.
1985   Keberangkatan  (Departure). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
1988   Kuala Lumpur and Other Places,Penerbitan Al-Huda.
1994   Pujangga Tidak Bernama.  (Unknown Poet),  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2004   Pesanan dari Gunung Ledang (A Message from Mount Ledang),  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2005   Salasilah (Ancestral line).  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2014   Cerita dalam Cerita.  (The inside story)Kuala Lumpur: Institut Terjemahan dan Buku Malaysia.

2000.   Nota Waktu (Time Notes,  with  Lim Swee Tin).  Kuala Lumpur: Citra Publishing Sdn. Bhd.
 The work of  Zurinah Hassan (poetry and short story) have been translated into several languages including English, Tamil, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, French, Japanese and Thai.  Some notable works are:
2010. Facing the Harbour /Menghadap ke Pelabuhan.  Kuala Lumpur:Malaysian  Institute of Translations and Books. ( translations into English by the poet).  
2012 Menghadap ke Pelabuhan/Frente al Puerto.  Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Institute of Translations and Books, (translation into Spanish by Patricia Vazquez Marin)
2012 Menghadap ke Pelabuhan/ Глядя на гавань, Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Institute of Translations and Books, (translation into Russian by Victor Pogadeav)
2015 Menghadap Ke Pelabuhan/En Regardant Le Port, Paris: L’Harmattan and  Malaysian Institute of Translations and Books. (translation into French by Jean Severy).
2016 short story  “Bendang Lahuma” (Lahuma Padi Field) in an anthologyi Miniatures, Nouvwelles de Malaisie, Paris Magellan &CIE and Malaysian Institute of Translations and Books 
1993, short story  “Nenek” (Grandmother) in Antologi Cerpen Penulis Wanita Malaysia, Xiandai Publication, China, (translation into Mandarin)
2014, cerpen “Kerongsang Berlian Wan Tempawan” (Wan Tempawan Diamond Brooch) in  Antologi Cerpen: Malaysia-Taiwan, Malaysian Institute of Translations and Books  and  Taipei Chinese Centre Pen International (translation into Mandarin .
2016 Poetry  “Puisi Cinta yang Lain”, Anthology  in conjunction with India-Malaysia Writers Meet, 2016 (translated into Tamil)


1989.    Meneruskan Perjalanan.(Going On)  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.      
2004.    Menjelang Pemilihan. (Election Soon) Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2016     Murka Lautan, (The Wrath of the Ocean) Kuala Lumpur, Institute of Translation and Books.


1991.  Hatimu Aishah.  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

1996.  Sasterawan Negara Usman Awang.  (Usman Awang, the Literary Laureate). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2003.  Memoir Zurinah Hassan Menjejak Puisi.  (Memoir of Zurinah Hassan Journey in Poetry), Bangi: Penerbit UKM.
2010.  Unsur Alam dalam Puisi Melayu.  (Nature in Malay Poetry), Bangi: Penerbit UKM.
2011.  Puisi Melayu Tradisional-Pantun, Syair, Gurindam, Nazam, Seloka.  ( Traditional Malay Poetry)Pekan Ilmu.
2013.  Catatan Perjalanan Seni Zurinah Hassan.( The Pessage Through Arts)  Kuala Lumpur: Institut Terjemahan dan Buku Malaysia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Muhammad Haji Salleh is National Laureate (Sasterawan Negara) of Malaysia, an Emeritus Professor , a well known poet, critic and translator.

A further illustration of this individualism comes from the works of a woman poet, Zurinah Hassan. Her poems not only show that she is a different woman from other woman writers but also a person who finds in poetry the opportunity to speak out her inner most  soul without the decorum of the past literary practices.
Although Malaysian literature does not discriminate against women poets, because of certain attitudes of propriety and   femininity, the really vocal and individual woman poet is a rare person. Zurinah Hassan is a poet who does not shy away from the personal problems in poetry. Unlike traditional poets, her style is direct and she is her own theme. The woman alone, through  Zurinah, has never before been dealt with in such terms or put in her uncompromising reality.
Let us look at a short poem as a start to see how the poet sees herself
Now I am a mad actress on an empty stage
The curtain has fallen 
And the audience have all gone
But I am still acting
uttering my favourite lines
“God, thank you god
O, thank you god
For giving me everything
Except the one I desired most”

I see this poem as a statement of a lonely young woman facing a loveless life- a topic that is shied away from in Malaysia, and discussed done so only very indirectly. Zurinah includes no self  pity or sentiments for effects. On the contrary it is stated in the staccato sounds of the brutal absurdity of her existence, she allows herself to judge objectively. This she does by comparing herself to a mad actress who acts out a life on an empty stage without an audience. In a very intense moments of absurdity. Absurdity in this form is very novel to Malaysia and in its freshness strikes hard at  the old world-views.
Like Latiff Mohidin and Baha Zain, Zurinah Hassan too illustrated these aspects of this new individualism that perhaps come from a university education, a changed environment, new personal and moral values.  Zurinah as a contemporary woman finds that she must hear her own inner voice and a poet must record it as truthfully as possible. Even though times have changed, to be this truthful is to be a courageous woman, both intellectually and morally. She needs freedom in order to be this courageous.
While the air is for one moment light
 at another moment heavy
Space is for one moment laden
And another moment empty

A bird in the mud lifts its trapped wings
Trying to be free.
The poem is called “Dalam Mencari kebebasan (To Be Free). It parallels the predicament of a woman to be herself in a society that is not ready for her.
 Zurinah Hassan has made a significant contribution to Malay literary development. She brings meaning to the Malay language, breathes life into her words. Her use of language is captivating, poetic and harmonious. Some of her poems  I’ve  noticed are  cynical, satires about men based on her experience.

One of her poems in particular had large impact on Usman . He remembers that it was a message to children which read, “Do not forget there is always god. For you will need him one day particularly when you are born a woman. I will always remember  that poignant line. It reveals the problem and sufferings of a woman trying to survive   in a man’s world” 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Interviewers, including students and reporters often asked these questions:
·         Why do you write poetry more than other genre?   
·         What do you write about, or what are the themes of your writing.
My answer to the first question is, I began with poetry because my introduction to literature and writing was through poetry. As a child I sang children songs (lagu kanak-kanak) or traditional nursery rhymes while playing with friends.  When we have radio in the house, I spent hours listening especially to songs. I picked up the lyrics which in those days were usually beautiful and meaningful. Some tunes used beautiful and romantic pantuns. I came to learn and appreciate the beauty of words and encountered the poetic value in my language. I roamed the gardens, the seas and mountains described in the songs, and picked up beautiful expressions which kindled my imaginations. My love for poetry was nurtured and I began to write.
Looking back my themes can be summarized as below
·         From 1967 to about 1972   I wrote mostly about social issues especially  poverty among farmers and fishermen.
·         From 1972 to 1980 was my restless years, searching for myself and the meanings of live.   
·         In the eighties my marriage and Islamic awareness calmed me down. I found meaning in family relationship.
·         In the nineties, the situations of the Malays disturbed me most.
·         By 2010 I found myself coming back to society and the reality of live.

In the first phase, from 1967 to about 1972,  I wrote mostly about social issues especially  poverty among farmers and fishermen. As a young enthusiast I read anything I could find on poetry and on what was happening in the local literary scene. Articles by my favourite poets, Usman Awang and Kassim Ahmad inspired me. They advocated writers as voice of society  .  Most of the early poems are published in my first personal anthology, Sesayup Jalan (USM Press 1974). One of them was about about a fishing village, Tanjung Dawai

This evening at Tanjung Dawai
Admiring your scenery

But who owns your beach
No, no you certainly
You only have a boat and a net
To cast your life in the open sea.  

The second phase from 1972 to 1980 was my restless years. I was searching for myself and the meanings of live.   I was looking West to T.S.Elliot and later, the absurd writers especially Samuel Backett and was very much disturbed by the notion that life is a never ending wait. This was when I wrote AT THE BUS STAND depicting life as the wait  for the bus to a destination that you have not decided

At the bus stand
Smokes from moving cars
Has landed in my eyes
 At this bus stand
A long shadow
Is lying
On the dust

And I waited on
The buses have gone
I am still at the station
Making no decision
On my destination.

My marriage in 1979 brought in the third stage in the eighties, concurrent with Islamic awareness that calmed me down. I found meaning in family relationship and prayers. During this time there were many poems talking about love, family and keeping harmonious relationship with Allah and His creation. An example is a poem entittled Certainty

You may not be the best man
But for a woman like me
I am not sure there is anyone better

Do not ask if I am happy
I too will not question your emotion
For when one tries to be too certain
one ends up with more suspicion
The more we analyse and discuss
There is more to learn,
The nineties could be taken as the fourth stage . I was disturbed and worried about the future of the  Malays. Politicians and everyone else were talking about how the Malays  are losing  ground in their own inherited land. This time I look through the pages of history, legends and folk tales and felt very sad  that  we   have made mistakes along the way. I wrote poetry about the misdeed and lust of Malay rulers, that had weakened the empire of Melaka long before the attacks from outside.
One such story was the heartless killing of the Bendahara (Prime Minister) of Melaka and all members of his family by the Sultan.

I did not resist when they come with the keris
To take my life
If it is Your Majesty’s wish
After all it is my own saying
That the Malays never disobey their king

But I do regret
That your majesty should forget
As every tree has its root
Everything has its beginning
The start and their origin
Demang Lebar Daun installing Sang Sapurba
As  the first king
They come to a treaty, an agreement
A king is not a king
without his men

Since then Demang came second
A Bendahara in status and rank
He even became the king’s father-in-law.
In the state  protocol
Sang Sapurba is above all
But in  family relation
Demang in a higher position

From there
To Singapore and Melaka
Bendahara were addressed  by their tittles
Seri Maharaja, Paduka Raja
Seri Wak Raja
Meaning king’s father, guardian of the ruler
For it is true bendahara arrre pillars
The strength of the nations
The king heads the country
The bendahara in authority
The king wwears his crown
The bendahara guards his ground.t

The sharp keris of his majesty
Pierced through the bendahara’s body
Tha madness of  the action  
Has wounded a nation.

A king is but a servant
To the rules that make him a king.  

Crossing the millennium I found myself coming back to society and the social problems .There are so much ills around us that I felt guilty to be indulged in aesthetic .
One such poem is

As promised before election
Lorries of cements, pebbles and sand
Trampled our land

As promised before election
So began the construction
For days and months
Then a mosque with magnificent dome
sparkles in the sun

And come the big occasion.
We stood in procession
From the foot of the hill
To the edge of the mosque
With flowers and posters
The whole village was there together
to welcome a minister

Beating of kompangs and speeches
Delivering  massages full of  praises
For the new mosque
Speaking of loyalty to god
Loyalty to His messenger
Loyalty to the government in reign
And this loyalty need not be changed

The  minarets  stand tall  to the cloud
The call to prayer clear and loud
But my grandma and friends
Never come near the mosque again
Grandma said often
The new mosque is magnificent
The floor is raised on higher ground
The steps and tiles arrangement
Boost of their creativity all around

But we are already old
Our feet wobbles on sparkling marble
They don’t build this mosque for us to pray
But for a show off
and more of a display.