W.S. Rendra (1935-2009): Dissident in the wind

What Media Says

In this article: Rendra, W. S.,
Written by Max Lane, and was originally published in Direct Action,
Sep 01, 2009

On August 6, Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra, Indonesia’s greatest dramatist and most influential poet, died in Jakarta, aged 74. More than a thousand people, mostly villagers but also intellectuals, attended his funeral on August 7 at his home and theatre group centre, Bengkel Teater, outside Jakarta. There would have been few people in Indonesia who had not heard of or seen Rendra on stage or in one of the movies in which he appeared. Rendra began his career as a poet in the 1950s writing romantic, erotic and semi-sacrilegious religious poetry. He soon found himself aligned with the writers opposed to the rapidly growing organised left. His own poems, especially those with erotic content, were criticised by the left in a period where mainstream socialist politics was still influenced by Stalinist puritanism.

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