The Malay oral and literary culture in Singapore is commonly associated with three traditional Malay poetic forms: pantun (rhyming quatrains), syair (narrative poetic form), and gurindam (verses of moral instruction). These expressions are used to convey ideas and life lessons.
Practised across the Malay communities in the Southeast Asian region, these Malay poetic forms can also be integrated with other performing arts forms, such as dikir darat and ballads. In Singapore, Malay popular music often incorporates traditional poetic forms in its lyrical repertoire.
As compared to traditional Malay poetic forms which usually focus on subjects that are didactic in nature, contemporary Singaporean Malay poetry focuses on social themes such as cultural identity, urban living and traditional ways of life. The use of these themes evokes a sense of belonging and communion amongst those creating and reading these poetic forms, and therefore makes Malay poetry an important form of social expression and identity marker for the Malay community.