10 Interesting Facts of Indonesian Poetry

Poetry is a written art. In this art form, a poet uses language to add aesthetic qualities to semantic meanings. In Indonesia, the existence of literary works is highly appreciated by some of the audience. Assessment of literary works can be seen from how many fans of the poem.

Beautiful and legendary poems were born from great and phenomenal writers. Indonesia has legendary writers who are not inferior to foreign writers. His works are very influential on Indonesian literature. Here are the facts of Indonesian poetry.

  1. Chairil Anwar is Indonesia’s first famous poet.

Chairil Anwar became famous in the literary world after the writing of his writings in Nisan Magazine in 1942, when he was only 20 years old. He is also known as “The Bitch Beast” in his work, “I”. He has written 94 works, including 70 poems. Together with Asrul Sani and Rivai Apin, he was named by H.B. Jassin as a pioneer of the ’45 Force as well as modern Indonesian poetry.

Anwar began to be famous in the world of literature after the writing of his writings on Nisan Magazine in 1942, at that time he was twenty years old. However, when he first sent his poems in “Pandji Magazine” to be published, many were rejected because they were considered too individualistic. Almost all the poems he wrote refer to death. His poetry circulated on cheap paper during the Japanese occupation in Indonesia which was not published until 1945.

  1. Poet as the oldest literary

Poetry in Indonesia is the oldest literary case. Since a long time ago, poetry was an ancient way in society, or at that time called a mantra. In Javanese society has the Javanese nembang (singing) tradition, poetry lyrics that are in doubt. Usually, nembang is sung at sacred and important events, such as the events of mitoni, siraman, and other village parties. In addition to the poetry lyrics that are developed, it can also use story stories, such as the stories of Raden Panji, Dewi Nawang Wulan, Jaka Tingkir, and others.

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  1. The first poet generation in Indonesia named Balai Pustaka

In this generation, poetry is still in the form of spells, rhymes, and poems, which are bound poems. Mantra is the oldest type of poetry found in regional literature throughout Indonesia. The choice of the words is considered as magical. It is used by humans to invoke something from God.  So that, the mantra did not only have the power of words but also have the inner strength. Pantun and Syair, old poems whose thematic structures or structures of meaning are crushed according to the rules of the type of rhymes or poems, in this case, rhymes and poems are still in the form of bound poetry.

  1. The poetry in 1945 generation mostly express nationalism

If in the previous period renewed the form of poetry, this period carried out comprehensive changes. The form of sonnet poetry, inscribed, etc. are no longer used. In the 1945 generation, poetry has a free structure which mostly has expressionism and realism. In addition, the diction expresses the inner experience of poets and uses everyday language. In this generation, there are many poems in the style of cynicism and irony that are put forward to voice social and humanitarian issues.

  1. The Most Heroic Poetry Force is in 1966

This period was dominated by demonstration rhymes or protest poems that were read to fuel the enthusiasm of the youth in demonstrations, such as in 1966 when there were demonstrations of students and students against the Old Order government. Poets like Taufiq Ismail and Rendra read their protest poems in front of the youth.

To fuel the enthusiasm of the 66th generation creator’s activities, literary facilities began to emerge. The facilities included the emergence of the magazine Horison (1966), Budaja Djaja (1968, and the construction of Isail Maruki Park (TIM), which became the center of culture. In this period two major schools of poetry developed. The first stream was neo-romanticism which emphasized loneliness. as a metaphysical resistance to the world, the poets who followed this school were Goenawan Mohammad, Sapardi Djoko Darmono, and Abdul Hadu WM.

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  1. Contemporary Poetry Period began in 1970

In this period poetry is called contemporary poetry, poetry that appears in the present with forms and styles that do not follow the rules of poetry in general, and have characteristics that are different from other poems. In contemporary poetry, one important thing is the exploration of a number of new possibilities, including the reversal of new words and the creation of new idioms.

The theme in contemporary usually consists of protest, humanism, religion, struggle and social criticism. The Style in contemporary poetry usually uses such as spells, majas, new typography with many sound associations, and words from regional languages that show their regionality. In the world of contemporary politics, Sutardji broke new poems, and improvised his poetry. This can be seen in Sutardji’s poem “O, Amuk, Kapak”

  1. The poetry that is so popular in wedding invitation is “Aku Ingin” by Sapardi DJoko Damono

It was like never talking about poetry from Indonesian poets without mentioning his name in the list of poets that we must know. The former professor at the Faculty of Letters (now the Faculty of Cultural Sciences) of the University of Indonesia is known to be very productive, even in his old age. One of his monumental works is a poem entitled “Aku ingin” (1989) which we often encounter in the opening of wedding invitations.

His poetry becomes very famous since its romantic words. Here goes our attempt on the English translation:

I want to love you unassumingly

With words that the logs failed to utter

to the fire who turned them into ashes.

I want to love you unassumingly

With signs  that the clouds failed to carry

to the raindrops that made them vanish. 

  1. Each Generation of poetry has its own characteristic

Indonesia has famous writers and poets from generation to generation. Each generation has different characteristics based on the themes raised in each literary work. This difference is influenced by the Indonesian socio-political situation at that time.

With the shift of political power from Soeharto’s hands to BJ Habibie then KH Abdurahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and Megawati Sukarnoputri, there emerged a discourse about Reformation Literature writers. The emergence of this generation is marked by the proliferation of literary works, poetry, short stories, and novels, which have socio-political themes, especially around the Reformation.

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  1. Sitti Nurbaya is the first novel that published in Indonesia

In Indonesian literature, “Sitti Nurbaya” Marah Rusli’s work may be said to be the first modern novel published in this country, namely in 1922. But in truth, long before the romance was published, an Indonesian novel was born. The novel appeared about 30 years before the publication of Sitti Nurbaya.

The novel in question is a work entitled “Thjit Liap Seng (Bintang Toedjoeh)” composed by Lie Kim Hok in 1886. In short, the novel tells about the state of China at the time of the Taj Tjheng Tiauw kingdom with the maharaja named Hamhong. This novel is a romance, which is a sad story about a character’s poverty. This 500-page novel is set in China, although it was published in the land of the Dutch East Indies.

  1. Pramudya Ananda Toer as the most awarded poet

Pramudya Ananda Toer is an Indonesian writer with the most literary works. Not only that, too many have received national awards. Pram wrote dozens of novels, including the most famous tetralogy, made in 10 years of his isolation on Buru Island.

Pram died in 2006 at 81 years old. Awarded the Ramon Magsasay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in 1995 and PEN Freedom to Write Award in 1992.

After reading the facts above, you might thing Indonesian poetry is also interesting to study. Although it might not be as famous as poetry by Ernest Hemingway, you should appreciate it as the national poetry that is so epic.