He Never Betrayed Poetry

What Media Says


About Sapardi Djoko Damono,
Written by Hasan Aspahani, and was originally published in Tempo English,
Aug 03, 2020


ESTEEMED poet Sapardi Djoko Damono breathed his last on Sunday, July 19. Esthetically speaking, his work achieved a level of its own in the Indonesian literary firmament.

SOME of Sapardi Djoko Damono’s poetry is much like an endless lake which waters if scooped will gel in the hand and transform into whatever they wish it to mean. But the way to delve into his body of work is to sail on those self-same waters.

Sapardi’s words represent a life which on the surface looked like it was mainly made up of calm waters. In fact, the poet’s life was filled with many contradictions: treading between a life not making any sense and one of calculated logic; between the Javanese language in thought and the Indonesian language in text; between a form so simple conveying content filled with complexity; between a wish for peace and facing unavoidable conflict.

Fellow poet Sutardji Calzoum Bachri once said, it was as if Sapardi’s poems were written in Javanese and translated into the Indonesian. Many saw that statement as sharp criticism towards Sapardi’s stilted use of language in his poetry. Yet Sapardi welcomed the comment. “Indeed, I do think in Javanese.”

Read the full article here.