Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/15445
Title: 
The muse as social conscience: Poetry and social critique in the work of Masuri S.N.
Authors: 
Issue Date: 
Jul-2008
Citation: 
Paper presented at the Seminar Masuri S. N (2008), Singapura, 26 – 27 Julai 2008
Abstract: 
The purpose of this paper is to look at poetry as social and political critique in the work
of Singapore Malay literary doyen, Masuri S.N. I would like to explore a few questions:
1) Can poetry, with all its inherent power and richness-but also its tendency to draw
attention to its own immediate aesthetic resonances-be the instrument of rectification,
of human correction?; 2) Is the poet obligated to sacrifice, if necessary, art-with its
source in contemplation-to political and social struggle?; and 3) How can poetry
contribute to the social and political betterment of the human condition? This paper is
in partial response to the increasing detachment, even disdain, that typifies public
regard of poetry today; and to my developing conviction that my own teaching of poetry
must openly engage the issues and concems of time and place. With so much recent
poetry alienating readers in its extreme privacy and considered to be too self-absorbed,
hermetic and socially disengaged, can there be something other than the artifice of verse
that has authority beyond the poem itself, simply in the fact and fervor of its social
message, coupled with an insistence on the poet's special position as soGiety's
conscience, its seer and reformer? The answer, in the case of Masuri's poetry, I believe is,
yes. As a poet who had himself lived through periods of violent social and political
upheaval, he naturally addresses social political events in the context of personal
experience, and his authority, the weight of his words, compels attention for their hard
insights into the nature of struggle and selflessness, unflinching acknowledgments of
responsibility, at once deeply personal and declamatory.
URI: 
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