As part of the Autumn 2017 Asia House Literature Programme – generously sponsored by the Bagri Foundation – we present Indonesia in Focus, a two-part series exploring what it means to be a literary labourer in contemporary Indonesia; one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multilingual countries.
On 23 October, we will be welcoming Indonesian architect, curator, writer and poet Avianti Armand to delve into the theme of childhood and family in Indonesia. In 2009, Armand received the award for Kompas (newspaper with the largest circulation in Indonesia) Best Short Story in 2009 and the Katulistiwa Literary Award in 2011 for her collection of poems, Women Whose Names Were Erased. She recently published a collection of poems titled, A Book about Space. She has also written several architecture books, one of which is a collection of essays titled, The Other Architecture.
Armand will be in London as a writer-in-residence from October to November, sponsored by a grant from the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. Her talk at Asia House will be centred on her residency project, a collection of poems titled The Museum of Childhood in reference to Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The Museum of Innocence.
About this new collection of poetry Armand comments as follows: “The ‘museum’ stores and brings ‘objects’ that ever lived or just passed through my childhood, like bedtime stories, drawing classes, ‘Little House On The Prairie’ and talks about the distance to the moon, postcards, cactus on the fifth floor, address book, playing the rain, fear of growing old and death. This ‘museum’ is, of course, very personal. Everyone has their own particular childhood. But some events are worldwide, and many things stay the same, or outlive several eras, hence, become part of many personal stories. It is quite possible that some of my memories are in conjunction with the memory of many people, and it can then too transport them to a place, somewhere in time.”
Armand, who also received the Indonesian Association of Architects Award for her “Kampong House” in 2008, will be joined by poet Amali Rodrigo, born and raised in Sri Lanka. Rodrigo has lived in Mozambique, Kenya and India. Rodrigo is now based in London researching a PhD while working as an associate lecturer at Lancaster University. She was the recipient of the Magma Judge’s Prize and second prize in the Poetry London poetry competition in 2012, and has been highly commended in numerous others including The Bridport Prize, Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize and Wasafiri Poetry Prize. Her first collection, Lotus Gatherers, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016.The collection offers a world of paradoxes – exotic and familiar, a deeply spiritual world which delights in passion; that celebrates love, but does not hesitate to focus on unsettling histories of gender violence.
The talk will be moderated by Jennifer Wong, writer, translator and researcher born and raised in Hong Kong who now lives in the UK. Wong’s works have appeared in publications such as The Rialto, Stand, Oxford Poetry and The Warwick Review. Her poetry translation has featured in Poetry Review, while her reviews have appeared in Poetry Review and Poetry London. Her second poetry collection, Goldfish, for which she received the Young Artist Award from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, spans from childhood memories, fairy tales, taboos, deep-rooted faiths to translated truths. She is completing a creative writing PhD on notions of place and identity in contemporary Asian diasporic poetry at Oxford Brookes University. This multi-disciplinary and multi-national talk that focuses specifically on Indonesia will be followed by a drinks reception ending no later than 21.00.
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General Admission: £6, Concessions: £5, Asia House Arts Members: Free.
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