Sapardi, holding the mockup of his latest book 'Yang Fana Adalah Waktu,' is posing with fellow poets and readers during the book launch on Friday (16/03) at the National Library in Gambir, Central Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Gramedia Pustaka Utama)

Legendary Poet Sapardi Djoko Damono Releases Final Chapter of His Romance Trilogy


MARCH 21, 2018

Jakarta. Legendary Indonesian poet Sapardi Djoko Damono hosted another book launch last Friday (16/03) at the National Library in Jakarta, this time for his latest novel "Yang Fana Adalah Waktu" (The Only Thing That's Transient is Time), the last installment in his "Hujan Bulan Juni" (Rain in June) trilogy.

The three novels tell the love story of a couple from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, Sarwono, a Muslim, and Pingkan, a Christian.

Hujan Bulan Juni began as a poem written in 1989. It was turned into a song in 2013 and into a novel in 2015.

The sequel, "Pingkan Melipat Jarak" (Pingkan Folds the Distance), was released in March 2017.

Hujan Bulan Juni was also adapted into a movie in November 2017, starring Adipati Dolken as Sarwono and Velove Vexia as Pingkan.

Yang Fana Adalah Waktu is also titled after another classic Sapardi poem from 1978.

The new novel is a book within a book. A short poetry collection called "Sajak-Sajak Untuk Pingkan" (Poems for Pingkan) – purportedly written by Sarwono – is also included within it.

"They’re not my poems, but Sarwono’s. I created a character and that character wrote his own poems," Sapardi said jokingly at the launch.

Sarwono’s poems are written in Sapardi’s signature style: all simple diction and nature symbolism.

The book launch featured a collaboration between Sapardi and singer Nya Ina Raseuki aka Ubiet. Sapardi read Sarwono’s poems as Ubiet "sang" excerpts from the novel.

After that, Tatyana Soebianto lent her angelic voice to "Aku Ingin" (I Want), arguably Sapardi’s most iconic poem, turning it into a beautiful, touching lament accompanied by guitarist Umar Muslim and cellist Arini Kumara.

Actress Velove, also in attendance, told reporters she had a sneak peek into Yang Fana Adalah Waktu and looked forward to read it in full.

Sapardi, holding a mockup of his latest book 'Yang Fana Adalah Waktu,' poses with fellow poets and his fans at his book launch on Friday (16/03) at the National Library in Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Gramedia Pustaka Utama)

Sapardi, who turned 78 on March 20, has been very productive lately, also publishing "Perahu Kertas" (Paper Boat), a reprint of his 1983 poetry collection, and a book of essays (Sapardi also teaches Indonesian Literature at the University of Indonesia), "Alih Wahana" (Adaptation).

Sapardi has also received lifetime achievement awards in the last three years, from Majlis Sastera Asia Tenggara (South East Asian Literary Council) in 2015, the Habibie Center in 2016 and University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Humanities last year.

Siti Gretiani, the general manager of Sapardi's publisher Gramedia Pustaka Utama, praised Sapardi for his prolificness and great contribution to Indonesian literature.

"Not only is Sapardi a great poet, he's also an excellent novelist and essayist. We hope Pingkan and Sarwono's story in Hujan Bulan Juni can be enjoyed by future readers, they can find a lot of good things about Indonesia in this romance trilogy," Siti said.