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Wiji Thukul

Writer



Wiji Thukul—born Widji Widodo in Solo, Central Java, 26 August 1963—is modern Indonesia’s foremost people’s poet. With humble words but extraordinary courage, his poems recount the everyday struggle of the poor and downtrodden: lack of opportunities, unfair wages, the police criminalizing them for organizing and trying to make a living, corporations stealing their lands. By turning his experiences into poetry, he created space for people like him, so often ignored by the literary establishment, and made them realize they have the power to resist and rise against the injustices they suffer.

In an era where defying the authorities could land you in jail or worse, Thukul wrote: Come join us / let’s be a nightmare for the president. His most famous line—only one word remains: fight!—is a popular cry among activists and demonstrators. The power of his poems, which he read at workers and farmers rallies, attracted authorities’ attention. In 1996 he joined the People’s Democratic Party, Indonesia’s first opposition party in the authoritarian New Order regime. That cemented his status as a wanted man. He fled to Borneo, moving from town to town. His family and friends last heard from him in February 1998. Many suspect he was disappeared by New Order’s special forces. Thukul is now an icon for people’s power in Indonesia.

His poems have been compiled in two collections: Aku Ingin Jadi Peluru and Nyanyian Akar Rumput. In 1991 Thukul received the Wertheim Encourage Award, in 2002 a Yap Thiam Hien human rights award, and in 2014 he was selected as an ASEAN literary figure. Recently a movie was made based on his life: Solo, Solitude, which has been well received in international film festivals.1


  1. Intersastra 

Book(s)


Aku Ingin Jadi Peluru (Kumpulan Puisi)
(I Want to be a Bullet)
Poetry Collection
223 page(s), Indonesiatera

In the Headlines


A part of history

Inside Indonesia / As Seen On
Dec 10, 2023

Politics on poets’ mind

Jakarta Post / As Seen On
Oct 09, 2017

Wiji Thukul biopic gets special award at Bulgarian film fest

Jakarta Post / What Media Says
Sep 05, 2017

Wiji Thukul: From Solo to Locarno

Jakarta Post / What Media Says
Aug 11, 2016

Rethinking Censorship in Indonesia

Sydney Review of Books / As Seen On
Nov 06, 2015


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