The isolation poems by Putu Oka Sukanta

What Media Says

About Putu Oka Sukanta,
Written by Kiernan Box, Vannessa Hearman, and was originally published in Inside Indonesia,
Oct 09, 2021

Putu Oka Sukanta, poet and writer, was imprisoned by the Indonesian New Order regime between 1966 to 1976 as part of the army’s seizure of power and the purges of the Left. He learnt acupuncture from fellow inmates in prison. When he was released, he could no longer write and publish his work. As a former political prisoner during the New Order, he was restricted in what he could do. Acupuncture became a skill he relied on to make a living. These poems were written during the Covid-19 pandemic when in the absence of vaccines and growing number of people becoming infected and dying in Indonesia, one of the easiest ways to protect oneself was to stay home and avoid contact with others. The themes of fear, dread, isolation, and desperate longing are reflected in the poems below. The poems were all written in his home in Rawamangun. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sukanta laid low to avoid becoming infected with the virus. He closed his home practice, and as a result, lost his source of income. Though he was not in prison this time, being in isolation, at times, reminded him of it.

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