The (Un)Making of a Worker Poet: The Case of Md Mukul Hossine and Migrant Worker Writings in Singapore
Keywords:Working-class poetry, migration, neoliberalism, Singapore
This article discusses the migrant worker poet Md Mukul Hossine. Showing Mukul as the representative migrant worker poet also severely restricted and complicated his process of ‘becoming’ a poet. From a Marxist standpoint, the Singaporean literati’s dismissal of Mukul reveals the predicament of being a working-class writer in today’s neoliberal market. The particular bourgeoise ‘production mode’ of working-class literature in Singapore first ‘made’, then ‘consumed’ and ultimately ‘condemned’ Mukul. First, I examine the publication process of Mukul’s poetry and its success followed by a series of problems. In the second section, I offer a close reading of Mukul’s poems understanding Mukul’s poetics and struggles as a migrant worker poet as his poetry is seldom examined in literary criticism. Finally, I argue that the representation of migrant workers writers such as Mukul is problematic due to the nature of the whole system: how they are empowered in such a context equally does harm to them. This mode again reproduces the systematic structure of power hegemony and social inequality through the field of literature.