Before commencing translation, what do you think is the most important thing to "get" from the original work? Do you think if you're a poet-translator, you should be a similar type of poet to the poet you're translating? Specifically regarding Indonesian to English translation, what's your take on how to render Indonesian cultural references (e.g. kebaya, warung, nasi rames, tembang)? How do we check our biases as translators? How do we position ourselves so that we don't whitewash the work we translate? How different are the impacts - technically, poetically, but also politically?

The 'Missing Bits: Poetics and Politics of Translation' talk at POST Bookshop on the last Saturday of October 2018 discussed all of the questions and more, but our three speakers showed why these questions matter by sharing their individual attempts to translate the same Indonesian poem in English. We're sharing their takes on Wiji Thukul's Jangan Lupa Kekasihku as a souvenir from the talk, mostly because those who came said that the best part of the event was when each of them read their translations aloud. 



Don’t Ever Forget, My Love

don’t you ever forget, my love

when the full moon is out

and we go for our walk

the man asleep in front of our house

one arm in the gutter

that’s our next door neighbour, my love


don’t you ever forget, my love

when five o’clock strikes

those female factory workers

with their tired eyes

who walk alongside you

those are your friends, my love


don’t you ever forget, my love

when people ask you which one is your father-in-law

say it’s that man who drives the becak

he is your father, my love


don’t you ever forget, my love

say your name

to anyone who asks

don’t hang your head in shame

that name belongs to you, my love


translated by Mikael Johani.

Mikael's first poetry book, We Are Nowhere And It's Wow, was published by POST Press in 2017. He was accepted into the 2018 Emerging Translator Mentoring Program by the National Centre for Writing in Norwich, through which he is translating Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas' Non Spesifik book of poems. Mikael is also the co-organizer of Paviliun Puisi, a monthly open mike gig in Jakarta.


Don't Forget, My Darling

don't forget, my darling

when the moon is bright

and we go out for the night

those sleeping in front of the house

at the edge of the drainage ditch

they're our neighbors, my darling


don't forget, my darling

when five o'clock comes

the woman laborers

who with weary eyes

walk alongside you

in dense crowds

they're your friends, my darling


don't forget, my darling

when asked who your in-laws are

answer: the one who drives the becak

that's your father, my darling


don't forget, my darling

to anyone at all who asks

say your name

don't be shy

it's your name, my darling


translated by Daniel Owen.

Daniel is the author of Toot Sweet (United Artists Books), Restaurant Samsara (Furniture Press Books), and the chapbook Authentic Other Landscape (Diez). His translation of Afrizal Malna’s Document Shredding Machine is forthcoming in 2019 from Reading Sideways Press. He is a member of the Ugly Duckling Presse editorial collective.


My Love, Let’s Not Forget 

my love, let’s not forget

when it is full moon

we go for a walk

people sleeping out

on the porch, by the drain

my love, they are our neighbours


my love, let’s not forget

when the clock strikes five

the factory girls

with tired eyes

walking alongside you

walking in herds

my love, they are your sisters


my love, let’s not forget

if asked who are your in-laws

tell them: the man with the becak

my love, he is your father


my love, let’s not forget

whoever asks you your name

say it

don’t be ashamed

that’s your name, my love

Translated by Syarafina Vidyadhana.
Avi is a writer, translator, and interpreter based in Jakarta. After leaving a full-time translator / writer position at VICE Indonesia, Avi runs a collective of independent language and analytics professionals. When she's not working, she edits and designs books for POST Press, and working on her manucript of poems and essays.