For an hour, they stopped drilling, loading or shovelling. They recited.
Bangladeshi workers, mainly in construction, shared their poems in the inaugural Migrant Worker Poetry Competition last night.
They touched on dreams and fears, talked of love, identity and homes left behind.
"I write to relieve stress, to find happiness and to bond with other migrant poets," said competition winner and construction worker Zakir Hussain Khokon, 36, whose poem Pocket 2 is about the hardships he faced in leaving loved ones to come here.
The event at the National Library was organised by Mr Shivaji Das and Banglar Kantha, a local Bengali newspaper, to showcase the literary talent of migrant workers here to a wider audience.
Said finalist Jahangir Alam, a 43-year-old construction supervisor who heads a literary group for Bangladeshi workers here: "After a hard day's work, we write poems, dance, act and sing songs to forget our sorrows."
This article was first published on Nov 17, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.