The period from 1966 to 1999 represents a distinct era in Indonesian history. Throughout the “New Order” regime of President Suharto, the policies of economic development and political stability were dominant. However, the public opinion of personal expression was consistently under suspicion, and indeed dissent was severely punished.
Secrets Need Words traces the development of Indonesian poetry throughout this entire period. Texts are presented both in the original Indonesian and in careful, stylistically sensitive English translations.
In this anthology of contemporary work by Indonesian poets, the renowned translator and editor Harry Aveling presents a series of ongoing analyses detailing the political and social shifts that have influenced the work of particular poets.
Professor Aveling's analyses, along with the poems themselves, demonstrate how the poets responded to the power of the state in a variety of ways ranging from direct confrontation to withdrawal into personal and private realms characterized by fantasy and the use of heavily rhythmic language.
Secrets Need Words will be of interest to scholars of Indonesia and comparative literature, and will be for many years to come a basic text for scholarship and teaching. But it also offers all readers of poetry an opportunity to explore a new, complex, and exciting body of literature from one of the world's largest nations.
Harry Aveling is head of the Indonesian/Malay Program, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He has translated extensively from both Indonesian and Malay literature, and co-translated from Hindi. In 1991 he was awarded the Anugerah Pengembangan Sastera by the Federation of Malay Writers Associations. More info →
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Kenneth Rexroth wrote: “Janet Lewis uses reason to veil and adorn the flesh of feeling and intuition. This is the way the greatest poetry has always been written.” The poems in this collection range over a period of 60 years. The style is spare, direct, cutting to the core of subject. Richness of intelligence and a concern for the human has also characterized every phase of Lewis’ development.
How does the language of poetry conspire with the language of power? This question is at the heart of this volume which deals with Indonesia and the Philippines in the early modern and post-1945 periods. These two nations have been shaped by the forces of nationalism, revolution, and metropolitan hegemony. Whether written in Malay, Tagalog, English, or Dutch the writings coming from them carry the contradictions of their time and place in the milieu of race and class.
Chairil Anway (1922–1949) was the primary architect of the Indonesian literary revolution in both poetry and prose. In a few intense years he forged almost ingle-handedly a vital, mature literary language in Bahasa Indonesia, a language which formally came to exist in 1928. Anway led the way for the many Indonesian writers who have emerged during the past fifty years. This volume contains all that has survived of Anwar’s writing.