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These are the discussion prompts from the September 2021 book club for Md Mukul Hossine’s “Me Migrant” (https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5300550). We cancelled the session, but the prompts are as presented.
1. What were your first impressions, or how did you feel after reading the collection?
2. Loneliness and homesickness are major themes, especially when the poet references his family members (“Loneliness”, “Golden Mother”, “Me Migrant”). He also writes about being invisible to other Singaporeans. How did they resonate with you? In addition, how has the pandemic and the lockdown influenced your perceptions?
3. “Expatriate means dream-drenched agony // To exist without happiness // Everything a dream”: The poet reflected that he was unprepared for the physical labour, which is also under-compensated and managed by unfair bosses. What do you think about the state of (migrant) labour and wage conditions in Singapore and what it means to be a migrant worker?
4. Relatedly, the HealthServe volunteers reflect on the precarious nature of migrant employment and both the physical and psychological risks of their jobs, such as through deaths or medical situations. What are the policies or structural changes for which we should advocate?
5. Given the aforementioned, how do you also evaluate the poet’s positive descriptions of Singapore (“Singapore’s Golden Jubilee”) and the founding prime minister (“Closing Adoration”)?
6. CNA caught up with the poet three years after the book’s publication, painting a difficult picture of staying employed, struggling with finances, and leading a double life as a migrant worker and a poet. What do you make of the developments?