As always, this workshop is free to join, and open to all poets and translators, regardless of their level of proficiency with the original language. This workshop will remain open for submissions until midnight on 14th June 2019, and then archived.
This workshop looks at the poem ‘Bonle’u’ by Cicilia Calista Oematan, a member of Komunitas Lakoat.Kujawas, a social enterprise based in Mollo, Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia. A literal translation is provided beneath, along with notes and a glossary to help you create a version of the piece in English. We welcome all kinds of translation – versions which cleave to the original and render it as ‘faithfully’ as possible as well as ‘freer’ translations.
For this workshop we invite you to submit your version of the poem together with a translation of the glossary provided. All suitable submissions will be featured online. One submission will be chosen for inclusion in our forthcoming digital pamphlet.
This workshop is produced in partnership with British Council as part of the Indonesia Market Focus 2019.
Bonle’u diciptakan Tuhan tanpa kata dahaga
Hanya banyak lebah bernanah madu
Dan lo’e raja bergantung selendang
Jalanan rusak bertabur beling
Di depan mata gunung Mutis masih saja angkuh
Pipa-pipa kerongkongan memberi tahu
Bahwa ia mata air hidup
Bon Le’u: nama tempat di kaki gunung Mutis, salah satu tempat dengan sumber mata air terbesar yang mengalir ke seantero Timor.
Lo’e: perilaku menyuguhkan sirih pinang untuk tamu. Sirih pinang adalah dua benda penting yang harus disuguhkan sebelum memulai sesuatu. Suguhan untuk mengawali pembicaraan adat hingga suguhan pertama ketika tamu datang ke rumah kita. Ia lebih penting dari suguhan kopi dan teh.
Mutis: nama gunung tertinggi di pulau Timor. Bagi orang Mollo, arwah semua orang meninggal dipercaya akan menuju ke puncak gunung tersebut.
Bonle’u was created by God without the word thirst
Only many bees with honey pus
And king’s lo’e draped with a long cloth
Broken roads scattered with shards
Before the eye of the mountain Mutis, still arrogant
Throat pipes inform
That they are living springs
Bon Le’u: name of a place at the foot of Mutis Mountain, a place that holds one of the largest sources of freshwater that flows throughout Timor.
Lo’e: the practice of offering sirih pinang for guests. Sirih pinang are two important objects that must be offered to consume before beginning something. It’s the offering for everything from beginning conversations on tradition to the first offering when guests come to our house. It’s more important than offering coffee and tea.
Mutis: the name of the highest mountain on Timor Island. For Mollo people, souls of all dead people are believed to head for the top of the mountain.
Help on translating this poem
This poem is by Cicilia Calista Oematan, a member of Komunitas Lakoat.Kujawas, a social enterprise based in Mollo, Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia.
The poem comes from a new anthology just published by Perkumpulan Komunitas Sastra Dusun Flobamora (Flobamora Village Literary Community), and edited by writer and Lakoat.Kujawas founder Dicky Senda, entitled Tubuhku Batu, Rumahku Bulan (My Body Is Stone, My House Is The Moon).
You are invited to submit a translation of the poem – as well as submitting your translation of the glossary, which is given here in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Mollo, and in rough translation.
About anthology editor and provider of the glossary – Dicky Senda
Notes from the translator
‘This is not ‘discovery’, with all the colonial connotations of that word. It is intended as an act of sharing and exploring art as equals. This is not about ‘uplift’ and ‘empowerment’, as to use such verbs with regards to these young poets would be paternalistic – these often imply a hierarchy, a charitable hand giving to the ‘empowered’, with a whole host of assumptions about notions of poverty and development, lack and abundance, oft-accompanied by condescending and ableist ideas of ‘speaking for the voices of the voiceless’. It is I who feel uplifted and empowered by their words, as I hope you will feel as well. I hope this MPT collaboration will be a source of pride for them, in their culture, their art, and themselves – that it will be woven into the whole of their joy and thriving. I believe that it is always important to avoid paternalism and tokenism in translation, and that principles of equality colour the shape and form of the translated word.’