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Indonesian literary icon Sapardi Djoko Damono passes away at 80

Rizki Fachriansyah
Rizki Fachriansyah

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, July 19, 2020  /  12:52 pm
Indonesian literary icon Sapardi Djoko Damono passes away at 80

Literary icon Sapardi Djoko Damono poses during a book discussion in Jakarta on Dec. 19, 2018. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Trailblazing literary icon Sapardi Djoko Damono, known for his seminal poems and works of cultural criticism, passed away on Sunday morning. He was 80 years old.

Senior writer and cultural critic Goenawan Mohamad tweeted the news of Sapardi’s passing.

“Poet Sapardi Djoko Damono passed away this morning after having been sick for several months,” Goenawan wrote on his official Twitter page.

University of Indonesia (UI) spokesperson Amelita Lusia confirmed Sapardi’s passing to kompas.com. According to Amelita, Sapardi drew his last breath at Eka Hospital at around 9 a.m. 

The writer reportedly passed away because of a decline in organ function. He had been receiving treatment in hospital for the past 10 days.

His family is said to have laid him to rest at Giri Tama Cemetery in Bogor, West Java.  

Read also: Sapardi Djoko Damono reveals why he became a poet

Born on March 20, 1940, in Surakarta, Central Java, Sapardi is among the most revered figures in the history of Indonesian literature.

He graduated from Gadjah Mada University’s School of Literature and Culture in the 1960s and later studied humanities at the University of Hawaii in the United States from 1970 to 1971.

Sapardi, who served as a dean of University of Indonesia's School of Literature from 1999 to 2004, rose to prominence for his celebrated poetry collections, such as Perahu Kertas (1983), Hujan Bulan Juni (1994) and Arloji (2002).

Aside from his reputation as a famed poet, Sapardi was also considered a highly influential scholar who contributed to a thriving artistic ecosystem.

Over the course of his storied career, Sapardi served as the editor-in-chief of literary magazine Horison, and as the secretary of the HB Jassin Literary Documentation Center in the mid-1970s.

In 1988, Sapardi founded the Indonesian Literary Scholars Association (HISKI) and served as the organization’s general chairman for three consecutive terms.

Sapardi won numerous awards and received international recognition for his literary contributions, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF).

A number of contemporary public figures have mourned Sapardi’s passing.

Senior music journalist Adib Hidayat posted his condolences on his official Twitter account.

“A rain of tears in July. Farewell, Pak Sapardi Djoko Damono,” Adib tweeted.

Author Laksmi Pamuntjak conveyed her grief over Sapardi’s death in a public eulogy posted on her official Facebook page.

“As long as I’ve known him he had always been a close reader — meticulous and generous, yet critical,” she wrote.

“He steadfastly held on to his maxim, ‘Literature is how an author presents an idea, not the idea itself, which has remained the same since literature was conceived’.” (kes)

“Aku ingin mencintaimu dengan sederhana dengan kata yang tak sempat diucapkan kayu kepada api yang menjadikannya...

Posted by Laksmi Pamuntjak on Saturday, July 18, 2020

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