Poetry Writing from The Speaker of English as a Foreign Language’s Point of View

To be honest, I do not really write English poetry very much. First reason is my English is so Indonesian (or even Javanese?) since I did not acquire my English from any formal schools. It is quite hard for me to construct sentences as naturally as the native speakers do. Perhaps that is the reason why my English poems are usually unnatural in their expressions. Somehow, I do not take this as a burden either, since English is never my natural language–it is still very foreign to me up to now. This linguistic obstacles are not only present in my English poetry writing, they also occur in my Javanese one. Yes, I was born Javanese and educated in Javanese too. Yet, my formal education did not care much on Javanese language. The mother tongue now becomes my second language. It shocked me big time when I tried to write geguritan, the Javanese poetry, I found it so difficult. The complexity of Javanese language versus the simplicity of Indonesian –my present primary language– is somehow equal to the foreignness of English language versus the nativeness of Indonesian.

The only reason why I insist to write in both languages, Javanese and English, besides in Indonesian is that I take poetry as my “religion”. My upbringing has laid a strong foundation for my being Javanese and this is something I take seriously in my life. My spiritual bond with Javanese agricultural values has enlightened me to the awareness as a member of the universe. That to some extend brought me the need to learn other cultures. My first choice of other language to learn fell onto English. So Javanese, Indonesian, and English have become integrated parts of my linguistic awareness and I’ve been working on integrating those languages into my poetry writing.

Writing English poems is still very hard for me. So is with Javanese poems. The inferiority caused by my lacking of English cultural experience has forced me to write in my own way, my own sense of diction, my personally invented idioms. I pay less attention to the fact that native English speakers might find some bizarre expressions in my poetry. I keep my optimism that some likely unusual expressions in my poetry might, on the contrary, offer fresh yet local taste of English, especially in poetry.


Writing English poems is still very hard for me. So is with Javanese poems. The inferiority caused by my lacking of English cultural experience has forced me to write in my own way, my own sense of diction, my personally invented idioms. I pay less attention to the fact that native English speakers might find some bizarre expressions in my poetry. I keep my optimism that some likely unusual expressions in my poetry might, on the contrary, offer fresh yet local taste of English, especially in poetry.

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  1. Putri Sarinande Reply

    pops, i am considering of cirebonese then. perhaps i seem like copy-cat-ing you but i think it might be because there’s somethin’ unable for me to reach for the door or even window closed.

    i don’t know…

    pops = u r my grandfatherfromanothermotherfather

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