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Sunday April 30th 2017

Acép’s New Poems

Literature | Thursday, 24 November 2011 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawé Setiawan

The front cover of Acep's collection of poems (Photograph: Hawe Setiawan)

It has been nearly two decades since poet Acép Zamzam Noor issued his first anthology of Sundanese poems entitled Dayeuh Matapoé ‘City of Sun’ in 1993. Now, as if responding to some of his friends’ encouragement to develop his poetry making in the very language, Acép brings out his new Sundanese anthology entitled Paguneman ‘Conversation’.

Better known as an awards-winner Indonesian poet composing poems in the bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian national language), Acép (born in 1960) has actually been composing poems also in Sundanese, his mother tongue, even since the beginning of his literary career in 1980s. The publication of this anthology helps prove the fact that Acép, like some of his contemporaries—especially those who are from West Java—is a bilingual poet. It is interesting to notice that, for instance, some of Acep’s poems selected in this anthology, like the ones selected in his previous book, are more or less Sundanese version of his Indonesian poems, as if the poet is commuting between the two languages.

This new anthology, published by Bandung-based Nuansa Cendekia, consists of three parts: Birit Leuwi ‘Waterhole’, Tetelar Kawalagar ‘Kawalagar Pasture’, and Paguneman ‘Conversation’. They are selected in chronological order due to the period of each poem. Collecting poems from 1982 to 2011, it seems to be a retrospective anthology out of Acép’s literary odyssey. A little thicker than his previous book—which only consists of 60 pages—, it comprises some 60 or more poems, most of which resulted from his creative process during the past three years.

Dedicating the book to his late mother, the Tasikmalaya-based poet—who is also well known as a painter—expresses his lyrical contemplation on a sort of personal experience by means of idioms collected from a country life-world. Some of his recent poems are even named after several places surrounding his homeland at the southeastern region of West Java.

As far as his subject matters are concerned, however, his poetic reach is far beyond the boundaries of the village where he lives. Myriad of human conditions due to the relation of the poetic persona with himself, others, social as well as natural environments, and even God, seems to have been reflected in Acép’s poems.

And here is something that might be read as a sort of poetic statement of his own:

Puisi namperkeun lalampahan
Dina kiceup-kiceup kecap
Ngagenclang lir ibarat Kristal
Lukisan mangabad-abad kaliwat

To loosely translate the lines, it reads:

Poetry precipitates experience
In the blink of words
Shiny like a crystal
Painting from centuries ago

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