Writing Pramoedya: A Creative Response to the Writings of Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Ms Jennifer Mackenzie1

1Rmit, Melbourne, Australia

Pramoedya Ananta Toer was one of he most significant writers in Asia of the post-colonial period following World War Two.  In this presentation, I will discuss how the themes of his writing, both in fiction and non-fiction, can be explored through creative means, including translation, film and art, to highlight their importance both to our understanding of the past, and their relevance to the present and future. By addressing my poetic homage to Pramoedya in Navigable Ink (Transit Lounge April, 2020), and the political, feminist and environmental themes in his work, I shall discuss how these themes continue in the work of current activist artists in Indonesia, and how they offer a vision for the future.  Navigable Ink responds to a number of key Pramoedya texts through creative translation of episodes from Arus Balik, dynamic ekphrastic responses to the documentary Jalan Raya Pos, which features both Pramoedya and his essay of the same name, as well as to the work of current activists.


Jennifer Mackenzie is a poet and reviewer, focusing on writing from and about the Asian region. She is the author of ‘Borobudur’ (Transit Lounge, 2009; Lontar, Jakarta 2012) a long narrative poem about the legendary architect of Borobudur, and ‘Navigable Ink’, (Transit Lounge, April 2020), a homage to Pramoedya Anata Toer. She has a Masters degree from The University of Melbourne, ‘Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s “Arus Balik: A Meditation on Historical Fiction’.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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