poetry, review

Melipat Jarak: Sepilihan Sajak

32572055191_8df2ceb2fb_oMelipat Jarak: Sepilihan Sajak comprises Sapardi Djoko Damono’s selected poems written and published between 1998 and 2015. Quite different from Hujan Bulan Juni, his other book of selected poems released back in 2014, this one’s central theme is more of nature, God and spirituality, and old age. There is no so much as a hint of human love and romanticism in each and every one of the seventy five works contained in this book. But instead of being boring and lifeless, I found Melipat Jarak so heart-shredding and profound.

The collection opens with Catatan Masa Kecil, 4, a paragraphed poem about a little child who only knows of, and is so fond of, the number zero. It is intriguing how Mr. Damono, as an old man himself, explores the mind of a child and presents, if not writtenly imagines, that child’s take on numbers. The style may not be the prime quality for it’s not surprisingly new, but it is something that brings out the storytelling goal of the poem to the surface. Without it, the reader might not catch the reminiscent tone intended for them to sense; it would merely be verses and rhymes. And we won’t find this paragraphing in the opening poem only, but also in some others, like Sepasang Lampu Beca, which needs to bring up into view its “hidden narrative”.

In stark contrast to the first poem of the collection, many of Mr. Damono’s other works here talk about old-age life. Anyone already read his poetry books before must have been familiar with a piece entitled Ada Berita Apa Hari Ini, Den Sastro?, a nine-part poem telling of an old man who has been retired from his job and from everything else and the only thing he does everyday is reading newspapers at the terrace of his house without anyone, not even his own neighbors, paying attention to him. It emanates loneliness and elicits sadness, describing a kind of life where we will be only doing boring things, recalling the past, reading news and stories of other people on papers while totally ignored by those in reality, waiting for death to come to us. Reading this poem, the reader might get the feeling that it will happen to them one day, especially when there is no one beside us anymore. Interestingly, Mr. Damono describes this purgatory not only in one or two poems, but in many numbers, including Sebelum Fajar, which is very much heart-breaking, and Old Friends, a brief, funny poem about a lot of old people sitting in a wait for their turn at a hospital.

As I have mentioned earlier, many a poem in Melipat Jarak brings up the subjects of nature, God, and spirituality. They are so many that they seem to be the soul of the book. Sometimes these themes of God and nature are blended together into one, like what we find in the poem Surah Penghujan: Ayat 1-24. This isn’t so because of the title, nor the form that replicates the verses in the Koran, where God speaks to humans, but for it subtly describes the power of God transforming into changes of seasons which cannot be denied no matter how hard humans refuse them. In others, like the ones entitled Tiga Sajak Ringkas Tentang Cahaya (about the light of the moon and sun) and Sajak Tafsir (where every element of nature denies the way others describe its shape, name, and role in this world), Mr. Damono purely talks about the nature and how it works. Meanwhile, in poems like Sajak-sajak Kecil Tentang Cinta, Tentu. Kau Boleh, and Sajak dalam Sembilan Bagian, he channels out his creativity solely into the subject of God, spirituality, and how he interacts with the Almighty.

As engrossing as those poems mentioned above might seem, none of them bears uniqueness as attractive as Malin Kundang and Sudah Kubilang, Jangan Kamu ke Sana, which are meant to represent the “alternative narratives” of an Indonesian folklore, Malin Kundang, and a well-known Western fairy tale, Cinderella, respectively. It is not the only time for Mr. Damono to tinker with folklores, legends, or fairy tales for he has ever done it with the story of Ramayana in his 2-in-1 short story collection, Pada Suatu Hari Nanti, Malam Wabah, but still they are fascinating creations. In Malin Kundang, the betraying son is not cursed into a stone, instead, people of his land warn him against coming back home so he can dodge the bullet. While Sudah Kubilang, Jangan Kamu ke Sana is a totally different take on the happily-ended, popular love story. There are, on the other hand, pieces of which uniqueness is more on the form than the content; some poems like Sunyi yang Lebat, Tiga Percakapan Telepon (something I’ve never discovered before), Sebilah Pisau Dapur yang Kaubeli Dari Penjaja yang Setidaknya Seminggu Sekali Muncul di Kompleks, yang Selalu Berjalan Menunduk dan Hanya Sesekali Menawarkan Dagangannya dengan Suara yang Kadang Terdengar Kadang Tidak, yang Kalau Ditanya Berapa Harganya Dikatakannya, “Terserah Situ Saja…”, Urat Daun, and Dialog yang Terhapus. Their meanings are somehow unfathomable, but the beauty of their verses and rhymes is undeniably fun and enjoyable.

I cannot say I know much about poetry—the techniques, the figure of speech, the rhyme patterns and all that stuff—but overall I enjoyed Melipat Jarak so much. All the poems contained in this collection seemed to speak to me in every way, though it’s not to say that I could understand every one of them. Now I’ll close this review with some quote from one of my favorite numbers here, Dongeng Marsinah, a quote that is more powerful than that of Descartes:

“Ia suka berpikir,” kata Siapa,

(“She likes to think,” says Who)

“itu sangat berbahaya.”

(“that’s very dangerous.”)

Rating: 4/5

poetry, review

Melihat Api Bekerja: Kumpulan Puisi

Membaca Melihat Api Bekerja karya M. Aan Mansyur serasa membaca kumpulan cerita yang dipuisikan, dengan kalimat-kalimat serta kata-kata sambung yang sering kali dipecah-pecah secara sembarangan demi memunculkan rima yang teratur. Dalam setiap puisinya, Aan menarasikan bukan hanya perenungan dan perasaan, tetapi juga kritik dan sindiran terhadap hal-hal yang bisa jadi kita anggap “biasa saja” dan tidak perlu dipermasalahkan. Layaknya buah karya seniman pada umumnya, Melihat Api Bekerja, jika boleh dinilai, merupakan perwujudan diri Aan secara hati dan pikiran.

Membaca Melihat Api Bekerja juga merupakan tantangan besar, karena dari 54 puisi yang tersaji, tak banyak yang gampang dimengerti. Beberapa memang mudah dipahami, namun banyak yang lainnya menggunakan kiasan yang teramat kental serta gaya stream of consciousness yang sulit diikuti ujung pangkalnya sehingga dibaca sampai berulang kali pun tidaklah cukup. Di antara yang sulit “ditangkap maknanya” tersebut, yang sangat menarik perhatian adalah salah satu bait dari puisi Mengunjungi Ambon:

“Menjadi diri sendiri adalah filsafat yang sekarat dan alat kontrasepsi yang sudah bocor sebelum dimasukkan ke kemasan dan dijajakan sembarangan.”

Jika dibaca terpisah dari bait-bait lainnya, maka potongan puisi di atas dapat menimbulkan efek cengang dan memicu perenungan. Pertama-tama, apa yang dimaksud dengan “menjadi diri sendiri adalah filsafat yang sekarat”? Apakah, sebagai sebuah pandangan hidup, menjadi diri sendiri sangatlah sulit dilakukan? Begitu sulitnya hingga tak banyak orang yang mau menerapkan lantas ditinggalkan begitu saja menjadi filsafat yang terlantar, nyaris tak bernyawa dan hampir tanpa napas? Lalu, apa pula maksudnya “menjadi diri sendiri adalah alat kontrasepsi yang sudah bocor sebelum dimasukkan ke kemasan dan dijajakan sembarangan”? Apakah menjadi diri sendiri dianggap sebagai alat pelindung diri yang tidak berguna? Karena merupakan alat yang “bocor”, yang menguak bagian kita secara gamblang, prinsip tersebut hanya sia-sia belaka karena memang tak bisa digunakan untuk “melindungi diri”? Begitu pelikkah menjadi diri sendiri di dunia ini? Mungkin demikianlah yang ingin disampaikan bait tersebut.

Jika diperhatikan, Aan banyak berbicara tentang cinta dan kepedihan dalam kumpulan puisinya ini. Banyak sekali kiasan yang digunakan untuk menggambarkan cinta, seperti “Cinta adalah hidangan di atas meja, pelan-pelan dingin dan kau tidak lagi lapar” (dalam Tentang Sepasang Kekasih); “Mereka tidak tahu jatuh cinta dan mencintai adalah dua penderitaan yang berbeda” (dalam Melihat Api Bekerja); “Cintaku kepadanya melampaui jangkauan kata. Aku cuma mampu mengecupkannya dengan mata” (dalam Barangkali); dan “[…] cinta juga bisa membunuhku. Berkali-kali dan berkali-kali lebih perih” (dalam Kau Membakarku Berkali-kali). Dari kutipan-kutipan puisi tersebut, mungkin dapat diambil kesimpulan bahwa bagi Aan cinta tak lain adalah kepedihan yang bertubi-tubi: jauh, dingin, dan menyakitkan. Apalagi jika dilihat dari puisi berjudul Mengisahkan Kebohongan, di mana kata-kata cinta bisa jadi cuma omong kosong belaka. Atau dalam puisi Menikmati Akhir Pekan, di mana Aan berkata bahwa ia lebih suka berada di antara orang-orang yang patah hati, yaitu orang-orang yang jujur dan berbahaya (jika memang jujur itu berbahaya). Mungkin, bagi Aan, orang-orang yang biasanya bermesraan di akhir pekan bukanlah orang-orang yang sejujurnya bahagia, meski punya pasangan dan cinta.

Seperti yang sudah disinggung sebelumnya, selain perenungan dan perasaan, Aan Mansyur juga secara “sembunyi-sembunyi” melayangkan kritik dan sindiran kepada pihak maupun suatu hal tertentu. Seperti yang jelas-jelas ia layangkan kepada sosok-sosok terkenal dalam puisi Pameran Foto Keluarga Paling Bahagia, juga seperti yang tersirat dalam puisi Kepada Kesedihan, di mana pada salah satu baitnya ia berkata, “Memejamkan mata berarti menjadi politikus”. Di sini Aan seolah menyindir kaum politikus yang selalu menutup mata terhadap apa pun, termasuk dan terutama terhadap kebenaran. Atau bisa jadi Aan sebenarnya ingin mengatakan bahwa dengan “menutup mata” terhadap kebenaran, berarti kita telah menjadi seperti para politikus: busuk. Karena itulah di akhir bait tersebut ia menambahkan, “Aku memilih hidup sebagai penjahat yang ceroboh—cuma tahu melukai hidup sendiri”.

Secara keseluruhan, Melihat Api Bekerja merupakan kumpulan puisi yang kompleks: mengusung berbagai tema, menerapkan berbagai bentuk, menceritakan berbagai hal, dan menggunakan rima-rima yang mengandung berbagai jebakan baca. Namun justru itulah yang membuat Melihat Api Bekerja menjadi sebuah karya yang kaya. Ditambah lagi, puisi-puisi Aan Mansyur juga ditemani ilustrasi-ilustrasi hasil guratan Muhammad Taufiq yang sangat luar biasa, yang berperan merepresentasikan hasil tulisan Aan tersebut dalam bentuk gambar. Bisa dibilang, selain kompleks, Melihat Api Bekerja juga merupakan karya yang komplit.

Saya akan menutup resensi ini dengan salah satu bait dalam puisi yang berjudul Menyunting Sajak Untukmu, yang sedikit banyak mewakili kompleksnya isi dan makna puisi-puisi Aan yang terkumpul dalam buku ini serta kesulitan saya dalam mencernanya:

“Singkirkan semua yang cuma kata. Baca dan baca lagi hingga hilang maksudku menuliskan sajak ini. Apakah kau sudah merasakan hal yang sejak mula kupikirkan? Baiklah, akan kuhapus dan memulainya lagi.”

Rating: 4/5

poetry, review

Aku Ini Binatang Jalang

Chairil Anwar is no doubt the most outstanding poet, if I may say so, in Indonesian contemporary literature. His works have been recited, quoted, and used by so many people and even translated into foreign languages. I do not enjoy poems as a general rule, though I frivolously express my feelings in poems as well sometimes, but reading Aku Ini Binatang Jalang: Koleksi Sajak 1942-1949 was a wonderful experience to me. The book was first published in 1986, containing Anwar’s collected poems from 1942 to 1949, and has been reprinted many times through the years.

This book seems to have been compiled in an attempt to put together Anwar’s own poems (not his translation nor adaptation) scattered in several books. Those books had apparently had different versions of Anwar’s poems, making them questionable in their originality, hence the need for collecting those different versions into one book and putting them side by side. I understand that the editor didn’t mean to show which one is the original, but he might have, as stated in his “Editor’s Note”, wanted the reader to choose which one is the better and worth recitation or being quoted. All those poems are sorted in chronological order, so that the reader can follow Anwar’s progress in creating poetry.

There are more or less 74 poems in all, with some of them presented in two versions, plus several Anwar’s letters to H.B. Jassin. I found Anwar’s works pretty hard to comprehend (or maybe I just don’t understand poetry), but his words are so miraculously beautiful. The first two lines of the first stanza of Pemberian Tahu (1946) are particularly striking:

“Bukan maksudku mau berbagi nasib

   nasib adalah kesunyian masing-masing.”

Aside from the true meaning of the whole poem, I found those lines so mind-blowing like a punch to the head. I don’t dare to interpret them, as I used to try, but it’s as though those sentences express a strong desire for untangling ourselves not only from other people, but “outer world” as well. They are clearly stating that we are living our own life, our own destiny. We should not bind ourselves to anything or anyone.

Reading the entire book, I dare say that Anwar was never a poet trying to be romantic. Yet his words roar out despair and feelings more than anything.

“Cinta adalah bahaya yang lekas jadi pudar.”

No words could describe the impermanence of love better than those written by Anwar above. Once again, I may not fully understand the meaning of the whole Tuti Artic poem, but that particular line has a blowing effect on me. I think this is why Anwar’s words and lines have been quoted so often and very much popular (like “Aku ini binatang jalang”). His words, whatever their meanings are, have certain effect on everyone that they would be always stuck in their mind.

I would say that Aku Ini Binatang Jalang is a worth-reading poetry book. In addition to having a chance to read all Chairil Anwar’s ever poems, readers, I believe, will cherish his stunning talent in creating them.

Rating: 3.5/5