mercredi, décembre 04, 2013

Calistro Prize Short List 2013

The Calistro Prize is an annual award that aims to encourage 
and celebrate the creation of Malaysian stories by Malaysians for Malaysian children and teenagers.

The objectives of the Calistro prize are as follows:

To promote the creation of Malaysian stories for children and teenagers
To reward excellence of Malaysian content in fiction for children and teenagers.
To support Malaysians writing for children and teenagers.

The prize is sponsored by Calistro Consultants Ltd, a small management consultancy specialising in strategy in over 40 countries (including Malaysia) for both the public and private sectors. Calistro is committed to education and the arts, central to which are skills in language and the visual arts.

On 1st December 2013, the Calistro Prize Secretariat announced the Short List

Crescendo by Chris Lin
Gameworld by Su Ann Lee
The Last Wills and Testaments Of Melody Law – A High School Journal by Michele Chia
Anya’s Angsana by Bathmaloshanee Muniandy
Siti, The Queen Regnant by Ninot Aziz

I am thrilled and humbled that my third novel,
Siti, The Queen Regnant
has made it to the Short List.

dimanche, novembre 17, 2013


The months pass by so quickly. Last month in October, the excitement of the inaugural PNM awards buzzed everywhere among Malaysian writers and readers.
The family makes everything worthwhile.

With Nisah Harun who makes the journey as a writer a shared path

With our kind and renowned host, Sayed Munawar

I was fortunate that Hikayat - From The Ancient Kingdom was  nominated for two categories, more importantly, it was the only English  publication to be included in the highly coveted People's Choice top five finalists. Hikayat was 1st Runner-up in the Adult Fiction category, losing out to my own English teacher's novel, Magic Eyes!

It was a lovely event, held in the Angkasapuri Perdana Auditorium. Hubby and daughters were there, and my darling Mrs Khaw Choon Ean who continues to encourage me until today (that's a good 30 odd years of nurturing!) Good friend and award winning writer, Pn Nisah Harun had two books nominated. Celebrated writer, Puan Mahaya, whose compelling book Kuasa Kata was also nominated was such a lovely lady to meet.

It was a lovely evening, and treasured honour.

vendredi, septembre 20, 2013


HIKAYAT - From The Ancient Malay Kingdoms was shortlisted for the PNM-RTM Book Awards. Voting begins tomorrow and will close on 28th September 2013.

Here is a video on HIKAYAT with a wonderful introduction by Resensi host, Sayed Munawar.

I am thrilled and humbled that HIKAYAT was shortlisted for this nationwide award.
TOP 10 List so far: 1 Contengan Jalanan / Hlovate 2 I love you, stupid! / Melur Jelita 3 Hikayat : From The Ancient Malay Kingdoms / retold by ninotaziz 4 Cinta high class & cintaku kerana agamamu / Fatimah Syarha, Farhan Hadi 5 Cucur bawang & kopi 'o' / Hasrudi Jawawi 6 Hingga hujung waktu / Saidee Nor Azam 7 My precious Iris / Melur Jelita 8 Kembara sastera Nisah Haron : United Kingdom dan Dublin / Nisah Haron 9 Berjuta warna pelangi / Iris Ixora 10 Kuasa kata : dari lisan mengalir ke lautan aksara / sebuah memoir Mahaya Mohd. Yassin Title : Hikayat - From The Ancient Malay Kingdoms ISBN : 978-967-61-2540-8 Penulis - ninotaziz

Please do continue to vote and share daily
Thank you all for your support.

mercredi, septembre 18, 2013


Full story here.


KUALA LUMPUR : UNRAVELLING Malaysia’s noble heritage through hikayat (folklore), writer-poet Zalina Abdul Aziz, endearingly known as Ninot, shared her passion for Malaysian literature with more than 1,000 Sri KDU primary school pupils recently as part of the #SaySomethingNice campaign (#SSNC).
Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd’s managing director and founder Anas Zubedy suggested Ninot be part of the #SSNC by doing what she does best, enchanting audiences with stories of ancient legends and folklore with ‘A Hikayat A Day’.
The Sri KDU pupils performed six hikayat scripted by Ninot, including Sang Kancil and the River Otters, Onangkiu of Gellangui and various other beautifully costumed renditions, cultivating an appreciation of Malaysia’s glorious culture in her own way.
The rest of the story here.

mercredi, septembre 11, 2013


Trek With A Cause led by Dr Bala aka Monyet King
went on an expedition to Anapoorna in sight of Mount Everest
to raise money for education

As a result, Muslim Aid Foundation got to set up its 
Mobile Library for the orphanages it gives support to.

We were invited to share Hikayat with the kids
and it turned out to be a most joyous Merdeka celebration.
The kids sang Merdeka songs with such fervor.


And they read poetry.

Irani recited her own poem Merdeka with passion!

Did Doodle Art

And acted out ancient stories of Hikayat!

Thank you all.

samedi, août 31, 2013


Che Wan Kembang
Gemilang bestari rupawan
Ditatang dibelai disayang
Puteri sulung Sultan

Duduk di negeri Tanah Serendah Sekebun Bunga

THE ONLY DAUGHTER of Sultan Ahmad and Sultanah Che Banun, Che Wan Kembang was the light and life of the palace. Very often, she could be found in the forbidden garden, playing with a golden antelope her father gave her as a present. Her handmaidens tried to keep up with the little princess. Her hair,  flying in the gentle breeze, her cheeks rosy and her smile, lighting up her beautiful cherubic face.

Even at such a young age, the princess was already a brilliant scholar. She could read all the old Hikayat, which described her ancestors, the cities they built, the seas they traversed, the people they ruled. She was beginning to learn the arts of defense and the silat from her father’s warriors. She was fearless, beautiful and intelligent.
The rest of the story can be found here .

vendredi, août 30, 2013


ANCIENT WINDS SURGED to the coastal lands, bringing the monsoon rains. Here, in Pati Talak Terengganu, the kingdoms flourished and rulers changed guard. Tuanku Si-Helang Mawai ruled with the assistance of his trusted Perdana Menteri, Temenggong, Laksamana and Orang Kaya.
The king’s greatest treasures were his four daughters. The eldest was Uli Emak, followed by Uli Pati Talak Terengganu, who was born to lead. Puteri Emak Helang was the mistress of the sea. And the youngest, the most beautiful of all was Si-Helang Bakau, a princess of extraordinary beauty.

They lived in the royal palace, bringing joy to the royal household. When the old king was no more, Uli Pati Talak Terengganu ruled with her husband. After some time, the youngest princess, Tuan Puteri Si-Helang Bakau, married a neighbouring prince, Tuanku Si-Helang Laut. One day, Tuanku Si-Helang Laut said to his wife, “Your sister is ruling Pati Talak Terengganu well. Let us go to Bandar Mengkaleh as I hear they are in need of a king.”
After much preparation, the royal couple boarded the royal barge, Bunga Rampai Layangan Angin, together with the eldest sister, Uli Emak and sailed the open seas until they reached Bandar Mengkaleh. They were received by the four lords, Datuk Batin Alam, Datuk Batin Sangeru, Datuk Batin Laksamana and Datuk Batin Bongsu, in full ceremony as was customary when a royal family from far-off lands arrived.
The people built a magnificent fortress in which they would build an even more magnificent palace. After it was completed, Uli Emak was wedded to Datuk Batin Alam. The newlywed royal couple then travelled to the neighbouring kingdom Kota Ruyung to rule.
More and more people came to Bandar Mengkaleh. Trade prospered. Wise and learned men imparted their knowledge to their pupils. Experienced warriors taught the novice their art and skills. Everyone in the new country had a role to play, no matter how small, no matter how big.
However, the royal couple’s happiness was incomplete. They yearned for an heir to the kingdom.
One day, Tuanku Si Helang Laut said to his queen, “Let us sail out to sea, my queen. We will go to Lautan Tanjong Jati. The sea breeze and beautiful sights will do us good.”
They sailed away on the royal barge, Bunga Rampai Layangan Angin. The trip was so agreeable, upon return, Tuan Puteri Si-Helang Bakau was with child. Soon, the queen sensed that the baby was due.  Bujang Selamat immediately called for the Mak Bidan who came, took charge and cared for the queen. Amidst pelting rain, crashing thunder and lightning streaking across the sky, the prince Awang Sulong Merah Muda was born.
Tuanku Si-Helang Laut was very happy and full of energy. The people from the land of the seven rivers were ordered to clear the forest. Then the royal medicine man, Tok Pawang Tok Palit was asked to raze the earth with a wild fire that spread for seven days and seven nights.

Habis daun di-makan ranting
Habis ranting di-makan dahan
Habis dahan di-makan batang
Habis batang di-makan tunggul
Habis tunggul di-makan akar
Tiba di-tanah, api pun mati
Terbentang ladang bagai kasah terbentang

And the fire died out when the trees were no more...
The Tok Bidan came forth to plant the paddy into the fertile earth. At long last, the season of harvest arrived and a big festival was held in thanks for the bountiful yield. The king then said to his queen, “Let us sail upon the Royal Barge to Lautan Tanjung Jati once again.”
But when they arrived at the calm open sea, Puteri Si-Helang Bakau caught a chill, which turned for the worst and they returned to Bandar Mengkaleh. The Tok Pawang Besar tried all he could to heal her but the young queen failed to recover, becoming weaker and weaker day by day.  Soon she was no more and was laid to rest at the royal burial grounds.

The king grieved for he loved the queen beyond life. Seven days after, he became ill and no amount of medicines, herbs and chants brought him back to health. The king too passed on to the afterworld.
For 100 days, the people held prayers and mourned the royal couple.

The prince, Awang Sulong Merah Muda was an orphan, no more, no less.

Find the conclusion of the story here.

samedi, août 24, 2013


The illustrations from A Hikayat A Day will be exhibited at the Tropicana Shopping Mall from Monday 26th August 2013 onwards as part of the #SaySomethingNice Campaign. Do visit us and have a look at the work of artist, En Malek Rahim.

 The legends and folklores will be featured as per the following schedule on, on Facebook, Twitter, BERNAMA Radio24 and NST School Times. We thanks all parties for their support to A Hikayat A Day.

 Here are some of the artwork displayed.

samedi, août 17, 2013

Hikayat - From The Ancient Malay Kingdom on Resensi TV1

Syed Munawar called to let me know he was reviewing Hikayat and would like to have me on his show, Resensi. As a host, he was considerate and engaging, asking me to relate the process of writing Hikayat and how did I safe-guard the authenticity of the legends and folklores. I have been lucky to have so many parties assisting me like Adiguru Pak Nasir of Aswara and Prof Ding Choo Ming of UKM.

Hikayat contains stories from Malay Manuscripts, lores from the ancient arts like makyung and wayang kulit and legends of mythical princesses.

Suddenly, it was over. Thank you Sayed!

Thank you Kay for helping me get ready - all dolled up for the camera.

samedi, août 03, 2013

The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry

Title: The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry
Editor: Frank Watson
Publisher: Plum White Press
ISBN: 1939832012
Pages: 294
Amazon Page: The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry

From America to Nigeria, Germany to Malaysia, and all around the world. One voice in the dark joins another, then another. Soon there is a chorus of voices and the night comes alive. No two voices are the same and each adds depth to the song. Soon it spreads and people in the next town are singing, then in the next country, and then in all the continents of the world. Different languages where the words don’t sound the same, but the heart unites as one. The song is not just the one you hear, but the one that plays “connect the dots” along the veins in your arm—as you inhale and—join in.

Explore the world of contemporary poetry through the eyes and words of over ninety poets from around the world. Drawn primarily from the poets contributing to, The dVerse Anthology features the unique voices and styles of poets as they delve into topics as varied as love, family, travel, conflict, loss, and much more. Take a peek and see what the poets have to offer about the pulse of life in modern society.


This compilation was edited by Frank Watson, also known as the BlueFlute who is based in New York. Three of my poems have been selected for this anthology.

-The unknown frontier
-The Icarus Quandary

-Quand je suis avec vous

Available at Amazon. Thank you for your support! 
Cheers - Ninot

samedi, juillet 27, 2013

Hikayat on Air

HIKAYAT is for ALL of Malaysians. To love. To share. To cherish.

BERNAMA Radio 24 will be featuring me telling folklores (Hikayat) from 1st August onwards Monday to Friday at 1015pm. Just nice for bedtime stories.

This is really a project to reach out to ALL Malaysians, especially the younger generation. For unity. Nation-building. But really…to enjoy, I hope.

In particular, from 31st August to 16th September, ‪#‎SaySomethingNiceCampaign‬ - A Hikayat A Day will be featured. And in August, a feature in NST School Times!

Meanwhile, I am lagging behind time trying to finish my next novel, SITI. The protagonist is such an overwhelming character in our legends and mind, it is a real challenge. I have always dreamt of writing a book on Che Siti Wan Kembang and yet now, the fear of not doing justice to her story can at times result in a huge writer's block. Well, my usual advice to myself when this happens is to walk away from it for awhile and be busy with other writing projects. Poetry, reading and stuff...

And all the while, I write on!

vendredi, juillet 19, 2013

Interview by Poets United

My life over at the poetry blogosphere has been a wonderful adventure with poetry and online friendship, an unexpected bonus really. Sherry over at Poets United is very supportive of my poetry and work. Back in 2010, Poets United founder Robb Loydd interviewed me. This month, Poets United decided to feature a second interview. I am humbled.

Life of a Poet ~ Ninotaziz

Kids, I have a special treat for you today.  Ninotaziz has been a member of the Poets United community since the very early days of Poets United, when the site was begun by Robb Lloyd, (to whom I will be forever grateful). I am sure you have all enjoyed her amazing poetry. Over the three years I have known her, I have watched Ninot pursue her passion of preserving Malay legend, producing several beautiful books, that combine art and storytelling with magical results. I have been excited to see her work gaining recognition in the world of Malaysian letters, so that now I find myself interviewing not just a friend, but an emerging celebrity. It is a great honor to bring you this exciting update about our very own Ninotaziz.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Thank you Sherry and the wonderful team at PU.

mercredi, juin 19, 2013

International Congress of Asian Folklore III Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Prof Ding Choo Ming delivering his keynote address

The International Congress of Asian Folklores is held every two years and this year Jogjakarta Indonesia was host from 7th to 9th June 2013. The cultural capital of Indonesia was the perfect backdrop for the exchange of ideas and discourse by participants mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, China, Holland, Italy and UK. Held at the Inna Garuda Hotel, academicians dominated the congress with quite a few writers like myself in attendance.  Cutural highlights included cultural performances at the Sultan’s palace, the Kraton and an excellent Chinese Opera from China, all of which stimulated creative minds, spurring more folklore in time to come.

Four lessons from the conference

1. National Identity & Culture

It was established that readers of the same stories and legends share a common identity and sense of belonging. This circle of influence is strong which explains why those of the same generation behave is a certain same manner.

That is why folklore and literature is important to national identity. It creates a longing for what is the essence of our country. The ancient kingdoms, culture, music and arts - all fill in a void that would be unshakeable. This is what ancient Hikayat can do. If they do not have a place in society, this void will quickly be filled by something else.

Dr Ding Choo Ming said in his keynote address,”..the earliest history of a nation has been handed down by storytellers from generation to generation.” Thus, in our folklores and legends, we will find our inherited heritage of time immemorial.

2. Resolving conflict

It might seem strange but one of the keynote topics was on resolving conflict, delivered by none other than Prof Muhammad Hj Salleh. Conflict arises from territorial ownership, economy and resources, culture and traditions. In folklore and literature, conflicts can be resolved through marriages, judicial practice, secret societies, the king's will and there are many ambassadors of good will.

With Prof Muhammad Hj Salleh
This particular topic was most heatedly debated for the question on shared cultural activities between Malaysia and indonesia came up. This Konflik Budaya is real. It was raised how 'mere beautiful words' would not be able resolve the conflict. Prof Muhammad's answer was a classic and one could really see why at this conference, he was the giant of the Malay Literature World.

He said ' If Germany, Holland and Austria did not allow classical music to be performed in USA, Australia and the rest of the world, where would classical music be today?" The wayang and various dances performed in Malaysia and indonesia is a shared culture that was brought over and vice versa. We really have to come to a stage of acceptance.

Prof Muhammad also highlighted that resolving conflicts through judiciary practice was actually a western influence on the world. We Asians resolved conflicts through negotiationa dn mutual respect which explains why Asian make good negotiators.

3. Folklore as a real study of Leadership and good moral values

Folklore is actually a study of good and bad characters with universal appeal. This should be utilized to help shape the society we want. We might not see it but folklore is actually another branch of knowledge which has powerful effect on people, especially children.

Folklore also provides a study of leadership, what makes a good or bad head of society as many folklores deals with the problems faced by kings and the likes. There are also syair and hikayat that indirectly points out societal problems and how to deal with these issues.

4. Survival of Folklore and Hikayat

My paper Reviving Ancient Folklores through Historical Fiction dealt with the issue of stopping the folklore folklore from sliding into oblivion. It was apparent that folklore had three main challenges to overcome. One was the advent of technology, next, the  constraints of religion and finally new trends of thinking as the world becomes more globalized, and yet localized.

To survive, folklore and Hikayat need new retellings which take those challenges into account. In other words, it must adapt. Legends and folklore must be part of the mainstream creative content. It must be relevant to economy and tourism. We need to see new exciting retellings, and the movie industry, and theatre can pave the way to reviving legends.

Movies, youtube, podcast are how stories are told nowadays. That and books. This is the way forward for folklores and hikayat.


Note : Jogja is the cultural centre of Indonesia. In Jogja, culture is thriving, driven by the Sultan who is also the Governor of Jogja. Art, wayang, cultural music live on the streets, back lanes, on the kraton grounds. It was exhilarating.

Hikayat is the memories of ancient civilization. Embrace them before they slide into oblivion.

With Keynote Speaker, Prof Tom from Leiden University, Holland
With Dr Venny, Pak Imam and Prof Viddy

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