New poem genre from Moslem World?

For public in general this is old news. A new comer poet in literature world managed to achieve the First rank for the Best Selling poetry book in Amazon Kindle Store. His book sold more than those written by world legend poets such as Shakespeare, Kahlil Gibran, Jalaluddin Rumi.

Nonetheless, for literature observers, this is like a first light in the new horizon; the birth of new poetry genre, essay poem that combines the beauty of a poem and academic research with footnotes. This new genre is not written by a poet, but an activist who wants to introduce sensitive social issues in his country, discrimination. Indeed the readers love it.

This new genre is shaped from a country with the biggest Moslem population in the world: Indonesia. Denny JA is not a poet, but an activist, and he wrote a love story with the setting of racial riot in 1998. This riot has introduced Indonesia to the new era of democracy.

Respond to Criticism

Reading unique poems written by Denny JA reminds me of John Barr’s carping judgment on the current development of poetry.
In 2006, Poetry, A Magazine of Verse, published an article written by John Barr, Chairman of Foundation of Poetry.Entitled “American Poetry in New Century”; this article is a harsh criticism to the present development of poetry in the United States.  However this reproach also addressed the poetry development in the whole world.
According to John Barr, poetry is almost impossible to understand.

The poetry writing already reached the stagnant point which means it has not changed for decades. There is a huge gap between the readers and the poetries. The poets are engrossed in their imagination, or only reacted to other poet. They secluded themselves and no longer responded to the current issues that interest their readers.

He wrote, “poetry is nearly absent from public life, and poets too often write with only other poets in mind, failing to write for a greater public.”

John Barr wished that poetries and literatures would be similar of those during Shakespeare era. At that time poetry is the magnet, it was the talk of the day, appreciated by public and hasthe synergy with the current issues encountered by the people. At that time poetry portrays the aura and issues arising.

Fang Yin handkerchief written by Denny JA indirectly responded to John Barr’s criticism. This poet raises the discrimination issue which is a huge issue for the people in Indonesia. When Indonesia is transitioning to democracy, in 1998, the racial riot against Chinese ethnicity occurred. Many Chinese girls were gang-raped.

Denny JA described this event in heart-breaking love story between Fang Yin, a rape victim, and her lover who at the end left her.

Fang Yin was infuriated and hated Indonesia, a state that, in her opinion, failed to eliminate the discrimination against Chinese ethnicity. She went to the States requesting political asylum. She vowed never to return to Indonesia.

History changes, slowly Indonesia reformed due to the implementation of democracy. Chinese people receive better treatment. At the end, Fang Yin returned to Indonesia, even though her beloved lover has married her best friend.

This is a sensitive issue to be discussed publicly in this country. However, Denny JA, anti-discrimination activist in Indonesia, openly uses it as the topic of his poetry.

He wrote it in a new way called essay poetry, the combination of poetry and essay, a short novel in poetic form, complete with data and footnote.

In his country, Denny’s essay poetry become controversial as it is deemed a new genre, a new way to deliver opinion through poetry. It becomes more controversial as it broaches discrimination issues which are very sensitive political issue in this country.

Recently, TIME magazine voted Denny JA as one of 30 internet influential leading figures of the world, together with Barack Obama, Shakira, Justin Bieber. The poetries written by Denny JA receive great public attention.

The poetries in this book have been filmed in Indonesia, it has also been put on a theater drama, paintings, pictures and song.

It is clear that this is a bold experiment of Denny JA, as he integrated the poetry into a larger social movement.

Regardless of all controversies, Denny’s book has enriched the world literature’s treasure in both the issues as well as the style of the poetry itself.
(Robert William)

For more information, simply visit:

Denny Januar Ali, Ph.D
Office: Dua Rajawali Proper, Menara Kuningan 9 Floor G-H, Jl. H.R> Rasuna Said Kav.V Blok X-7, Jakarta Selatan
Email: [email protected]