Tue, Sep 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Poetry book tells stories of nation’s migrant workers

By Yen Hung-chun and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Poet Kang Yuan (康原) said his latest book is an attempt to humanize migrant workers by telling their struggles and quest to find happiness in Taiwan.

The book containing poems and images, titled Poems of Roving Migrant Workers (滾動的移工詩情), is the result of a decade-long collaboration with photographer Kuo Cheng-fang (郭澄芳), Kang told a book party hosted by the Changhua County Cultural Affairs Bureau on Wednesday last week.

Although Taiwan is a society of immigrants with an inclusive culture, the media have portrayed migrant workers in a negative light, he said.

“I hope that Taiwanese will experience the lives of migrant workers through my poems, and to feel their sorrow and joy,” Kang said.

Most of the book focuses on telling the lives of migrant workers in central Taiwan during their leisure time, especially during holiday gatherings, when they expressed themselves more comfortably, he said.

The book uses culture shock as the interpretive framework for understanding migrant workers’ longing for home, Kang said.

Many of the nation’s caretakers are Muslim women from Indonesia who wear headscarves when going outside, he said.

“For women eking out a living in an alien country, wearing a headscarf means that their body and soul are under Allah’s protection, which has nothing to do with preventing men from seeing their faces,” Kang said.

However, a healthcare worker named Mahni told him that she stopped wearing her headscarf because her employer, an elderly man, fumed and yelled at her for wearing it, he said.

Mahni later learned that the man took offense because he thought she was wearing a mourner’s veil to curse him, and she never donned it again during her employment in Taiwan, Kang said.

He was affected by seeing migrant workers shedding tears when they heard their children crying on the phone, he added.

When conducting research for the book, he met many migrant workers who found solace in forming romantic relations with their coworkers, bonds that crossed ethnic and national boundaries, Kang said.

While some of the relationships ended in marriage, others were fraught, extra-marital affairs because migrant workers often have a family in their native countries, he said.

The book is printed by Vista Publishing.

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