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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Released poet faces uncertain schedule in UK

Released poet faces uncertain schedule in UK

Khmer-American exile Kosal Khiev is Cambodia's first spoken word artist. Photograph: supplied

After being released from immigration detention on Sunday, Phnom Penh-based spoken-word poet Kosal Khiev faces an uncertain few weeks in the United Kingdom ahead of a raft of scheduled appearances across the country.

Khiev, who spent nearly 24 hours locked up after being detained on arrival at Heathrow Airport, will fulfil his performance obligations for Poetry Parnassus, a festival coinciding with the London Olympics.

Immigration authorities, however, remain in possession of Khiev’s passport, and it is not known whether he will be permitted to complete a regional tour of the UK scheduled for the coming weeks.

Masahiro Sugano, a film-maker accompanying Khiev, posted a YouTube video on Sunday night in which the poet thanked supporters for their well-wishes.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone out there for your love and support,” Khiev said. “It really gave me a boost of courage to continue on this road, continue on this journey, and not to stop and not to give up. Thank you.”

The Southbank Centre, the arts establishment that will host Poetry Parnassus, issued a statement on Sunday regarding Khiev’s detention.

“Southbank Centre has liaised closely with the Home Office, and Kosal Khiev has been released this afternoon on a temporary basis to carry out his part in Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus. We are working with the authorities to understand the reason for his detainment,” it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Gleeson at



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