Tue, 16 Aug 1994

Emha to read new social-critique poems

JAKARTA (JP): Controversial poet Emha Ainun Nadjib has been given the green light by the authorities to present some of his latest writing, all of which contains criticisms of the current social and political conditions, in Jakarta next week.

Emha, whose past works have often been the subject of government bans, told reporters yesterday that his latest works will expose some of the hypocrisies found in Indonesia's present social and political setting.

Emha said the presentation, "Emha's Poetry Presentation and Kiai Kanjeng Music Performance" will feature 15 poems whose themes are taken from aspects of social development throughout the country.

The performance at the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) art and cultural center from Aug. 21 through 23 -- will be complemented by a gamelan music display by a group "Komunitas Pak Kanjeng".

A presentation and dialog on Emha's work will also be held.

Kanjeng was taken from the Pak Kanjeng, one of Emha's most controversial plays which was banned in Surabaya, East Java, early this year because the police said it overtly criticized the government.

Officials at the Jakarta Art Council and TIM, which are jointly sponsoring the event, said the permission for the performance had been granted by the authority.

Emha said the poetry reading session would serve as a forum for dialog between him and spectators on the issues occurring in Indonesia. "As a nation, we are facing an ultimate test," he said. "We are no longer shocked by shocking things which frequently occur here. The example is the illogical bans by the government of a number of people and organizations," he said.

Emha was highly critical when the government banned three prominent new magazines Tempo, DeTIK and Editor in June.

He also said that he would keep on writing despite the present situation in which, for example, the United Development Party (PPP) was ridden with conflict ahead of its congress and the possibility that the controversial Al Arqam movement would be banned by the government.

Regarding the content of the poems, Emha said it is up to the spectators to interpret them, adding that he was aware of the assumption that he was involved in real politics through his works. "Poets are obliged to accommodate ideas, absorb them and transfer them into poems," he said.

Born in Jombang, East Java, in 1953, Emha's most acclaimed poems have been collected into books such as 99 Untuk Tuhanku, Sesobek Buku Harian Indonesia and Lautan Jilbab. (par)