A 22-year-old Bangladeshi migrant, Bikas Nath, has won the Migrant Worker Poetry Competition which was hosted at the National Gallery Singapore auditorium on December 11.
Bikas was awarded $500 prize money and the second and third place winners were given $300 and $200 respectively. The contest was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Singapore and there were 70 entries in seven languages from which 17 were shortlisted to recitation.
According to a report on The Strait Times, this contest started in 2014. This year it was organised by a group of volunteers with the help of local advocacy groups – such as Transient Workers Count too and Humanitarian Organization for Migraation Economics – who publicised the contest to the migrant workers.
“The poets spoke of love, longing and loneliness. Many were choked with emotion as they read,” reports The Strait Times.
Bikas won the first place for his poem “Keno Probashi?” (Why Migrant?). Staying awake at night in his dormitory, he wrote “his memories and misery down on paper,” The Strait Times cites lines of his winning poem:
“My life, my youth are held hostage,
And yet I long to love.”
The contest was judged by poets Alvin Pang and Chen Yu Yan, and playwright Haresh Sharma.