Saturday, July 1, 2023






JULY 2023

NILAVRONILL: Why do literature and poetry in particular interest you so much? Please give us some idea about your own perception of literature or poetry in general.


EWITH BAHAR: In Indonesia, Poetry reading is taught since in the elementary school. And I started writing poetry at nine and once won a poetry writing contest. In some parts of Indonesia like Sumatra or Kalimantan, traditional poems like pantun or syair are often presented as a part of family gathering like wedding reception, social occasions and in another functions.  I was attracted so much by poetry because I found it very unique compared to stories. Artistic but powerful. Brief but full of imaginations and mind enlightening. I studied literature more deeper in university and being infatuated. If my ancestors use poetry as mantra for cure and medication, my infatuation with poetry brought me to another side of benefit. I learned poetry as a therapy for emotional disorder which made me a public speaker for bibliotherapy. 


NILAVRONILL: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the time around you, in the other.


EWITH BAHAR: Literature helps me much in understanding life and God. Messages from novels or poems entering me through special and specific channel right to my heart, being processed there, and transmitted to the brain as inputs that I convincedly accepted. The way literature teaches or gives the message is incredibly powerful.    


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace?


EWITH BAHAR: Sounds a bit satirical that sadness is more powerful than happiness in arousing or heightening creativity. Several years ago I do believe this, but not anymore today. Depending on our mood will be weakening our creativity I presume. In a situation where we are required to provide articles or poems in various themes every week for instance, the important things we should have to fulfil these tasks are imagination, data, and good appetite to write. We cannot use mood as a trigger. Better improving knowledge to increase creativity. But every artist has his/her own way.   


NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?


EWITH BAHAR: Definitely yes. The digital information technology makes the development in literary world so marvellous. Studying literature is much easier now, because access to information resources is widely open and only using fingers by using internet. Manuscripts, photographs, sound libraries, book libraries, authors cite, before our eyes whenever we need. A wide variety of communication tools and communication platforms are also very helpful in connecting authors in the whole universe, very beneficial for exchanging information and having collaborations. Really beyond the time and distance barrier. In brief, as a consequence, we no longer rely solely on reading and writing skills, but we have to adapt ourselves to be literate in technology as well.

NILAVRONILL: Now, in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul: How do you respond to this present time?


EWITH BAHAR: More optimistic in involving myself in this field. We are equipped with many facilities that enhance us to be more serious in literary world. Compared to famous writers’ condition in ancient time like John Milton who wrote 10.565 lines of Paradise Lost in 1667 or Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote 8. 239 lines of Troilus and Criseyde in circa 1380 with limitedness in facilities for making research, trip or having information for their writings, we should be encouraged for being better.   From my side, I want to write more aggressively, want to publish more books. World needs us. This is the right time for us, writers, to help the earth and humanity from famine, war, pandemic, and moral decadence with our contribution. Words are the most powerful force available to humanity. We can use this force in a constructive way.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? And is this an incentive for or an obstacle against becoming a truly international writer?


EWITH BAHAR:  Our nationality is our identity, our root. I feel lucky living in a country like Indonesia, which is very rich in culture, that I can observe and explore much as a source of inspiration.  In an interconnected world, ethnic and traditional elements we introduce in our works, can be enriching and bring enlightenment to the world literature. Individually, as a part of international writers’ community, we should play role as a writer with universal standards, not merely emphasizing our nationality or our ethnicity. Our goal as a writer to inspire people, to influence them in a positive way, no matter local or international. A main tool we should have as international writer is understanding global language like English, because it is the most commonly spoken language in the world. We can say, the obstacle in this context not our national background but our failure in using global language as an important bridge to communicate and transmit our messages to the world.        


NILAVRONILL: Now, if we try to understand the tradition and modernism, do you think literature can play a pivotal role in it?  If so, how? Again, how can an individual writer relate himself or herself to the tradition and to modernism?


EWITH BAHAR: Time journeyed from traditionalism to modernism, and it is a dynamic movement which resulting many transformations. Indonesian literature started with many traditional poems and prose like hikayat, syair, pantun, karmina, and mantra as the oldest form, and they are orally transmitted since approximately from the 8th or 9th century. At that time my country was still be united with Singapore and Malaysia. This is valuable heritage.  For Indonesian modern writers nowadays, ideally this must help them to use the legacy as a starting point to make some developments or breakthrough in literature.  From my point of view, tradition should be enriching. 


NILAVRONILL: Do you think literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?


EWITH BAHAR: Good literary criticism is essential in helping people to interpret and understand the author's works, if it's analysed and discussed objectively and smartly. Not only discussing the content but also must be integrated contextually with ideas and other insights in order to make readers broadening their understanding towards the author's work. That's why we need more good critics in balancing abundant number of writers.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?


EWITH BAHAR: Yes, it is unavoidable fact that we are shaped by society in many ways, considering that us are part of it. For instance, through socialization, as a process by which people learn plenty of aspects of life such as norms, values, culture and many more. As a poet, society influence me greatly in my way of thinking and my perception. Literature indeed reflects the society, whether in the good or the bad values. We write for society and being encouraged by society as well. That's why it is said that Literature is a reflection of the society and time period. Literature is a mirror of society and time period. So, from literature we can study the past, about the people, culture, and important events. And the result, it broadens our horizon and by understanding it, we realize its mistakes and its magnificence.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think people in general actually bother about literature?  Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?


EWITH BAHAR: As the fourth largest population in the world, nowadays Indonesia current total population is estimated at 281.761.407 as of Thursday May 11, 2023, based on World meter elaboration of the latest United Nations data. Truly speaking, many of those amounts still uninterested in reading literature, especially poetry. The lack of interest in literature is caused by many factors. Say, one of them, the impact of pop culture that harms literature penetration. Reading and writing culture was killed, being away from daily life. At least, I recognize this phenomenon in my country. That’s why aggressive movement for reading and writing society was campaigned to support the government plan to elevate Indonesian literacy rate.  


NILAVRONILL: We would like to know the factors and the peoples who have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life.


EWITH BAHAR: My father influenced me much in my writing journey, I think. He provided me a plethora of books in our mini library at home with various genres. He let me to select what I love to read and develop myself in a book world, that from them I learn anything as an informal study. Reading many books since I was a kid, I had a dream to be a writer. By becoming an avid reader like my father, I then found my passion for writing, especially about culture and literature. Since in high school I got my articles published in some magazines and entitled to a honorarium. Later, when entering university, no doubt I chose Literature. So I have to say, my father and many famous writers motivated and influenced me greatly in my literary career.  


NILAVRONILL: How would you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations for or expectation from the younger generation?


EWITH BAHAR: There are plenty of poets in Indonesia from time to time, since our country is rich in literature and we have so many traditional poems as our valuable heritage. My contemporaries are aware to have idealism like our predecessors to maintain and preserve this treasure. Many of them are so brilliant. I personally wish the younger generation will make a breakthrough, doing more in their writing with higher achievements.


NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, and is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future?


EWITH BAHAR: We all know that the future can be scary and uncertain, but it is very important for us to stay positive and be always hopeful. Hope is essential ingredient in managing this life for every condition. Some famous literary works described beautifully about hope, like "Hope" a poem by Emily Brontë or "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers" composed by Emily Dickinson. That even in the merest glimmer of light, at the end of dark tunnel we will possibly find solution.


NILAVRONILL: What role can literature in general play to bring a better day for every human being?


EWITH BAHAR: Literature plays a great role in human life. It teaches us many things for life and enables us to get profound values in a specific way.  Because literature opens us up to a wider range of emotions. We learn to shift our perspective by putting ourselves in the shoes of others. Say, in novel we read, the writer creates characters in the story by describing them in conflict, facing obstacles in their ways, having goals to attain, etc. Writers connect a reader to a story by making characters relatable. This has power to build our own character. So many lessons we acquire that strengthen and enrich our life with insights from the deep.



EWITH BAHAR is a published author, poetess, novelist, translator and essayist from Indonesia. She had a long-time career in a mass communication field (radio and television industry). Prior to joining RCTI (The biggest private TV station in Indonesia) in 2004, she was a host for several musical and cultural programs for TVRI (Indonesian government TV station). This complements her passion who loves music, culture, psychology, philosophy and history greatly. She has published eleven books, in all genres: poetry, novel, short stories, and essays. Another three books are still in on-going process. Hundreds of her poems were published in many newspapers, journals and online medias, home and abroad. Her works also can be found in approximately more than 70 poetry anthologies in Indonesia and in many international anthologies. She herself once organized Indonesian poets to publish their works into ten poetry anthologies since 2014. And starting 2022, she plans to manage another poetry anthology project that will be joined by many world poets from five continents about Borobudur Temple, one of UNESCO world heritage sites in Indonesia that was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Two years ago, in 2019, one of her poetry books, Sonata Borobudur, got a prestigious prize from Indonesian National Library as The Best Five Indonesian Poetry Books 2019. In November 2021, her single poem, “Imigran Digital” won the third place in a poetry writing competition, related to outstanding yearly Indonesian Poetry Day celebration, organized by Yayasan Hari Puisi (Poetry Day Foundation). Ewith Bahar’s poetical works have been translated into several foreign languages, such as English, Spanish, Indian, Serbian, Armenian, Uzbek, Tajikistan, Nepali, French, Italian, Arabian, Chinese, Macedonian and Korean. Besides writing career, Ewith was also a teacher at communication institutions, Interstudi and LEPPKINDO. And several years ago, she also run a public speaking course for children and teens, coordinated by her own event organizer. She is now active in KaBi (Kanal Buku Indonesia – Indonesian Book Channel) and as a public speaker for creative writing, communication matters and bibliotherapy.




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