Emha Ainun Nadjib


He was born in Jombang (May 27, 1953), and currently lives in Yogyakarta

View his profile on Goodreads, or follow him on Twitter

Best known as Cak Nun, is a poet, essayist, and humanist. Born in Jombang, East Java, Nadjib began writing poetry while living in Yogyakarta, publishing his first collection in 1976. He became one of the city’s predominant poets by the late 1980s, and by then had also begun writing essays.

He participated in a theater workshop in the Philippines (1980), the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in the United States and various international literary events. He is known for Islamic themes in his poetry. His poetry collection Lautan Jilbab (1989) became an icon for the Islamic movement through the 1990s. He is also known as a writer of columns, essays, and plays. He is the founder of the Padhang Bulan community, which stages routine concerts and Islamic study sessions in several cities with the gamelan group Kyai Kanjeng.

Emha’s first anthology of poetry titled “M” Frustasi (the Frustration of “M”) was published in 1975. With his colleagues, he set up theater group Teater Dinasti. It did not take long for him to establish himself as a foremost figure on Yogyakarta’s poetry scene.

Living for five years on Yogyakarta’s downtown Jl. Malioboro, Emha studied literature with his most revered Sufi-teacher Umbu Landu Paranggi, who is believed to have led a mystical life. Umbu greatly influenced Emha’s work, which is often described as deeply religious and philosophical but esthetic.

He was later involved in various literary debates over ideas he introduced, which included “contextual literature” and “literature of liberation”. The former rejects elitism in the arts and the latter campaigns for more freedom in the arts.

He set up another monthly gathering called Kenduri Cinta (Feast of Love) in 2000 to stimulate love among people affected by displacement and poverty.

What Media Say