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    Sitor Situmorang

ISBN: 9786029144192

To Love To Wonder

by: Sitor Situmorang

The 1953 publication of Sitor Situmorang’s Green Paper Letter pegged him as a rising poet. Six decades later, the writer is still active. The more than one hundred poems in this book were selected from the several thousand he wrote. The main characteristics of Sitor’s poems are the simplicity of its wordplay and the clarity of its syntax. Sitor’s poetry are a poetry of words; they evoke concepts and call up a series of pictures and images. In his poems, we find a poignant blend of personal experiences and philosophical reflection.



In 1953, when Sitor Situmorang published his first collection of poetry, Green Paper Letters (Surat Kertas Hijau), he established himself as a prominent poet. In an essay he wrote some thirty years later, he would state that the poems of this collection expressed a single theme only: "love and wanderlust being two aspects of one and the same experience.”

To Love, To Wander, with poems dating from throughout Sitor’s productive writing career, is a travelogue, describing forty years of ontinuous love and wandering. It would be difficult to characterize his poetic work as a whole, even though the travelogue we could draw on the basis of a careful reading seems to deny every idea of development and change.

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.

ISBN: 9786029144192
Publish Date: 2014
Page Count: 178 pages

Sitor Situmorang was born in Harianboho, North Sumatra on October 2, 1924 and started his professional writing career as a journalist in North Sumatra at Suara Nasional (1945–1946) and Waspada (1947). Thereafter, he was assigned to Yogyakarta (1947–1948) and later worked for Berita Indonesia and Warta Dunia (1957). During the period 1950–1953, he lived and studied in Amsterdam. In 1954, following his return to Indonesia, he published Surat Kertas Hijau (Green Paper Letters), a collection of poems that served to establish him as a prominent and respected poet.

During the 1950s Sitor actively participated in the ongoing cultural polemic, particularly on the shape and direction of Indonesia culture. He became a prominent member of the Lembaga Kebudayaan Nasional (or LKN, the Institute of National Culture), an institution which was closely tied to Soekarno, the President of Indonesia at the time. In 1967, following the fall of Soekarno in 1965, Sitor was imprisoned and was not released until 1976, without any trial.

Over the decades Sitor has won numerous awards for his work and many of his works have been translated in English, French, Dutch, Chinese, Russian and other languages.

Translator :John H. McGlynn
October 14, 1952
John H. McGlynn, a graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (1981), lives in Jakarta where, in 1987, he established the Lontar Foundation, the only organization in the world devoted to the publication of Indonesian literature in translation. Through Lontar, he has overseen the publication of close to two hundred books on Indonesian literature and culture. Also through Lontar, he has produced twenty-four films on Indonesian writers and more than thirty films on Indonesian performance traditions. McGlynn is a contributing editor to several literary journals, including Manoa, Words Without Borders, Warscapes, and Cordite Review. He is a member of the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) and the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association (APWT) and the as well as a trustee of the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF), which oversees the U.S. government-sponsored Fulbright and Humphrey scholarship programs in Indonesia. He is also supervisor of the Indonesian National Book Committee’s Literary- and Translation-Funding Programs.

“To Love To Wonder”

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