The chairman of the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council said the formation of the literary communities may have occurred for several reasons.
BUDI SUWARNA, ELSA EMIRIA LEBA, VINA OKTAVIA
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JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The phenomenon of emerging literary communities needs to be supported so the movement can continue to grow. One way to do this is by strengthening the literary ecosystem, particularly in the regions, such as local publishing. Even though the literary ecosystem in this country is fairly healthy, it could be even healthier.
Writer Hasan Aspahani argued that each component had its own problems that needed addressing. One issue was that the role of the state, as a Maecenas figure, had not been maximized. There was still a weak royalty system for writers and a limited translation of foreign books into Indonesian. Awards for writers and literary works are also not equal to awards for sports.
“I once suggested that every year there should be an election for a Poet Laureate. In the United States, the Library of Congress appoints one poet as a literary ambassador for the year who campaigns for literature on campus and in the community. From there, the state is visibly present," Hasan said in Jakarta, on Monday (7/3/2022).
Digital technology also increasingly helps the community to grow and interact.
The chairman of the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council said the formation of the literary communities may have occurred for several reasons. Among them were aesthetic or ideological similarities, common backgrounds such as race or ethnicity, a media presence or encouragement from patrons. Digital technology also increasingly helps the community to grow and interact.
Commenting on the digital world, writer Warih Wisatsana believes that the pandemic had created an awareness of the spiritual reality that humans could still meet despite social restrictions, thanks to technology. The emergence of literary communities in remote areas had been helped by the fact that meetings could take place cheaply, instantly and simultaneously. "This maintains the creative power of each region," he said while stressing that local governments must nurture the literary communities.
Lampung writer, Ari Pahala Hutabarat, said during the Covid-19 pandemic, writers in Lampung had held more meetings in virtual spaces, and discussions and events on literacy and regional literature would continue to be held online. A number of writers had also produced works with the theme of the Covid-19 pandemic. He gave an example of Isbedy Stiawan ZS who published a book titled Buku Tipis untuk Kematian (A Thin Book for Death) in October 2021.
Pustaka Bergerak (Mobile Library) literacy activist Nirwan Arsuka said to help strengthen the literary ecosystem in this digital era, Pustaka Bergerak was developing a literary site and application using blockchain technology. By doing this, writers everywhere could monetize their work. It is planned that the site and application would be released in August.
Hasan agreed with this. For him, literature plays a crucial role for local communities, with literature also becoming a force for social movements. In Mollo, East Nusa Tenggara, said Hasan, the Lakoat.Kujawas community had built a library and gathers villagers to write about Mollo and local food.
However, Hasan said, the literary ecosystem involved four components, namely writers, society, publishers and patrons – the role of patrons could be filled by the state or people who care, like at the time of Balai Pustaka’s formation. These four components needed to be kept healthy to support the passion of the regional literary community movement.
Finally, patrons such as the state or wealthy individuals need to raise awareness about the importance of literature, for example by establishing literary foundations.
First, authors must maintain their energy to inspire new writers. Readers also need to be nurtured through the literacy movement. Book publishers, the conventional media and online media need to provide the space for literary works to be published and properly appreciated. Finally, patrons such as the state or wealthy individuals need to raise awareness about the importance of literature, for example by establishing literary foundations.
"If all these components are healthy, the literary ecosystem will be healthy," said the writer, born in East Kalimantan.
Networks and critics
Nirwan Arsuka said so far, some of the literary community networks in the regions, especially in Sulawesi, had learned a lot from Yogyakarta and Bandung, which were considered regions that had given birth to cultural discourse countering narratives from Jakarta. A number of literary communities from the two cities have faithfully supported communities in the regions. They teach these communities about editing and encourage friends to go home and develop literature in their regions.
Another need is to stimulate the development of literary critics. Critics are not only needed at the regional but also at the national level. There remains until today a lack of literary critics, like HB Jassin, who are diligent in documenting literature and studying it. Literary reviewers are needed so that literature can be explored further.
It is also necessary to create a perspective or curriculum on literature. Literature should be treated the same way as technology. This is based on the consideration that literature builds great civilizations.
In Lampung, said Ari Pahala, over the last decade cultural observers and writers had encouraged the establishment of a School of Cultural Sciences in Lampung to increase scientific support for literature. (BSW/LSA/VIO)