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Sitor Situmorang


Born Tapanuli Utara (Oct 02, 1923) Died Apeldoorn, Netherlands (Dec 21, 2014)
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Sitor Situmorang is an award-winning poet, essayist and writer of short stories from Indonesia. Born in 1924 and active as a journalist in Medan, Jakarta, and Yogyakarta in the days of the Revolution, Sitor belonges to the So-called Angkatan ‘45, the “Generation of ‘45,” a term that has been coined to refer to the loose group of anxious artists who came of age during the Japanese occupation and the Revolution and shared a certain attitude towards life. They were iconoclastic, vibrant thinkers, uprooted from their place of birth, open to the world, obsessed with the idea that everything should be different. However, it was difficult to find one intellectual leader who could give voice to this generation and forge a cohesive agenda. Sitor Situmorang had arrived in Jakarta from faraway Medan in 1946 as a young and restless journalist, looking for a footing in this world in motion; it should not come as a surprise that he, too, was inflamed by revolutionary fervor. Feeling close to those vociferous intellectuals and artists who had stormed the stage, he managed to become acquainted with some of them – and before long he was accepted into their circle.

Most of the work is of such a personal character that it tempting to fuse Sitor the man with Sitor the poet. Time and again we are told of the poet’s journeys, love affairs, longings, and reminiscences. This occurs in such a repetitive and obsessive manner that we are tempted to think we know much of his personal life, a temptation that does not always make it easy to ignore the poet’s personal biography. One can decide, too, to make the verbal leap and undertake a poetic reading that goes beyond the personal, beyond the referential.

The main characteristic of Sitor’s poetry is the simplicity of its wording, the clarity of its syntax. The tales and descriptions bear a deceptive transparency: they suggest a coherence and control that is only confirmed in the regular rhymes and rhythms – but once readers set themselves to a serious interpretation that transparency fades. The very lucidity leaves many open places that are not filled by making connections with other poems. Sitor’s poetry is a poetry of words, evoking concepts, calling up series of pictures and images that never come full circle.1

  1. Warscapes 


Oceans of Longing: Nine Stories
Collection of Short Stories
164 page(s), Silkworm Books
Ibu Pergi ke Surga
Collection of Short Stories
240 page(s), Komunitas Bambu
Salju di Paris
Collection of Short Stories
102 page(s), Grasindo
Rindu Kelana
Poetry Collection
164 page(s), Grasindo

What Media Say

Also Mentioned in ...

Politics on poets’ mind by A. Kurniawan Ulung - Jakarta Post (Oct 09, 2017)
A many-headed machine by Hendrik Maier - Inside Indonesia (Jul 17, 2015)


Ananda Sukarlan – Surat Kertas Hijau (Sitor Situmorang)

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