In a fantastic display of literary enigma, Tamil writer A. S. Francis has etched his name in the annals of Malaysian literature, securing a coveted place in the Malaysian Book of Records. The celebrated poet has achieved the extraordinary award for writing and publishing a staggering seven Tamil poetry books in 2023. The seven poetry publications were En Iraiva, Pazhaiya Natchathiramum Pudhiya Nilagalum, Nila Kaala Ninaivugal, Kadavulin Kanner Mazhai, Urukku Vantha Kaaval Theivam, and Irulin Kangal. Francis had received this award on December 31, 2023, at the Wisma Tun Sambanthan Complex in a prestigious event organised by the Selangor KL Writers & Readers Association. The astounding writer had expressed his outmost gratitude to the association for meticulously organising this event that honoured his work.
A. S. Francis, born on September 29, 1950, to Mariyammal and Arokiasamy in Ayer Tawar, Perak, stands as a distinguished and irrefutable literary figure among Malaysian Tamil writers. His work extends to many genres and literary forms, encompassing poetry, prose, drama, and essays. His works often deal with themes of Catholicism, humanism, the Tamil language, and various exciting new dimensions from the perspective of a Tamil writer in Malaysia.
Francis’s education journey began in 1970, when, with the support of Catholic priests, he was able to pursue his studies in Tamil Nadu’s Tindivanam and Madras. In 1973, he returned to Malaysia, commencing his religious work as a catechist. His experience studying in Tamil Nadu not only introduced him to deeper and more complex religious thoughts but also granted him the freedom to write and read more critically.
Francis began his journey as a writer in the 1980s, when, after dedicatedly and reverently reading many literary works, the desire and duty to write emerged from his heart and mind. When asked who his inspiration was for beginning to write, he simply says that it was himself. He further explains that for the desire to write to emerge from an individual, it must not come from others but must organically and earnestly form within one’s soul. He says that the source of creative inspiration must first be harnessed from one’s own body, but one must still dedicatedly and unrelentingly read. To be a good writer, one must not simply read, but read deeply and devotedly about their favourite subject.
In the 50-year span of his literary career, Francis self-published all of his works. The supporting and loving fraternity of his friends, Thangarasu and Pa. Ramu, had been a great source of moral strength for Francis. The esteemed writer shares that not only did he self-publish his works, but he would even take it upon himself to market his literary creations to Tamil schools, literary forums, and many other platforms.
In one of his poetry publications titled Kalvettugal Kaathu Kedhakkindrana, he had written a poem called Vaazha Piranthiyada. Upon reading this work, a suicidal individual felt a sense of rebirth within himself and found the will to live on this earth again. This emotion, which is translated from text to the physical body and spirit of a living being, evokes how powerful and alive Francis’s literature is. When asked about what philosophies and ideologies are crafted with his work, Francis answers plainly that everyone perceives his writing in a new light and new forms that even he had not thought of. Poetry and literary work is one that is birthed and breathes with the complexities, nuances, and myriads of dialectics. A great, profound, and sensible writer such as Francis immerses his readers with a multitude of thoughts and emotions through his writing.
Francis has even contributed to the writing of radio dramas, where he has created works for Christmas programmes, social consciousness programmes, and many more that have been well received. He shares that, like literature, his desire for writing radio dramas grew through listening to the medium and aspiring to create his own work in the same genre.
Image Source Francis Arokiasamy’s FacebookSome of his most notable awards are from the National Land Finance Cooperative Society for his short stories and contemporary poetry (Pudhu Kavithai), University Malaya’s Short Story Award, and international recognition by Thanjavur’s Tamil University, which graced him with the 2022 Karikaala Chozhan Award. He had also been a recipient of the Malaysian Tamil Writers’ Association’s Anbanathan Thangga Padhakkam for his iconic work. Francis also extended his utmost gratitude to both former Malaysian Tamil Writer’s Association President Rajendran and current President Nyana Simon, for their constant source of encouragement and support towards Francis and his literary career.
Francis expresses that he sees great development and immense potential in the new generation of Tamil writers in Malaysia. He shares that he reads their works not only in newspapers and magazines but also on the internet, where new writers are exploring new forms of the Tamil language and new philosophies, ideas, and thoughts. These acts all incredibly exciting and encouraging for him to witness as another generation of Malaysian Tamil literature emerge. He shares that although some writers will stop writing, there is constantly a sea of new literary creatives that expand the platform, never abandoning but always nurturing the Tamil language in Malaysia. In is with great pride that he states he is elated that writers after being inspired by his own writing.
It is beautiful to bear witness to the intricate bond literature creates between people. It evokes not just intellectualism but genuine forms of simple yet endearing fraternity between generations. Francis’s work is one that bears with it not only his own introspection but also the reflections of his people, his generation, and his land. His work is a monumental relic that will be cherished by the many hopeful souls that will blossom in the future.