Tyler Rose

Penang’s poets and writers have been short of a platform for the last couple of years, ever since the regular monthly Say It Like You Mean It  events came to an end in mid-2017.  The energetic team at Hikayat, led by Ismail Gareth Richard and Bettina Chua Abdullah, has come to their rescue, with its first  Open Mic for poetry and the spoken word, next Friday March 1st. An open mic night is an event at which anyone can sign up to read their poetry or other writing. It offers writers and poets the opportunity to try out their material in front of an audience, and poetry lovers to hear poems spoken by their authors instead of reading them in a book. 

Hikayat has given the evening a theme, ‘What Freedom Is: No Fear’, and there are six slots open for anyone who has something to say about freedom to do so, as a poem, monologue or musing. An additional draw for poetry lovers is that Malaysia’s best-known and most controversial poet, Cecil Rajendra, will read from his work.He has published more than twenty collections of poems over the last fifty years, the most recent of which is entitled Extremists and Other Deviants.

Cecil Rajendra

Also on stage will be Tyler Rose, a multidisciplinary artist originally from New York, whose poetry explores the weaponisation of art and the alchemy of transforming trauma and oppression into power and healing. The evening will be hosted by Penang-based poet Django Moon.






Hikayat, at number 226 Beach Street, is itself is a place that is well-worth a visit if you haven’t yet. It opened in 2018 and houses Gerakbudaya, an independent book seller with an extensive range of titles, especially in the areas of the arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as an event space upstairs. Since opening, Hikayat has held frequent talks, plus film screenings every Thursday evening, and sometimes at other times during the week. For more information on Hikayat check their facebook page.

Open Mic Open Mind, What Freedom Is: No Fear, takes place at Hikayat, 226 Beach Street, on Friday March 1st from 7pm until 9.30pm. Tickets are RM 15 per person (RM 10 for performers) and include light refreshment. Contact info@hikayat.asia for more information.