Yusri Fajar, M.A., a lecturer at the Faculty of Cultural Studies (FCS) Universitas Brawijaya (UB) won third place in the Jakarta Arts Council’s 2022 Literary Criticism Contest. The judges announced the names of the winners at Taman Ismail Marzuki Jakarta on Friday (8/26/2022).

The Literary Criticism Competition is a literary criticism writing competition held by the Jakarta Arts Council’s Literary Committee, aiming to maintain and grow the tradition of literary criticism in Indonesia. This year’s 2022 contest held the theme “Chairil Anwar’s Modernism” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chairil Anwar. Yusri won third place with his critique titled “Chairil Anwar Tak Pedulikan Alam?“.

In his critical essay, he examines the representation of nature in Chairil Anwar’s poems, which are described differently from those of earlier poets that came before him. He said that he refuted Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana’s view that the 1945 Indonesian writers’ generation did not pay attention to nature. After examining Chairil Anwar’s poems, he found the vital role of nature in building the atmosphere and shaping the identity of the personas in poetry. He concluded that Chairil Anwar’s poems were full of anthropocentric elements.

“I want to study more about natural entities that previously had not received intensive and in-depth attention. I think that natural and environmental issues have to this day become a hot topic of conversation in society,” he explained.

He argues that Chairil Anwar’s works have inspired many poets after him and made an important contribution to Indonesian literature, especially related to the “courage” to create new poems that are different from the old ones.

“Chairil Anwar’s works have also influenced other art fields, such as theater and film. And do not forget, Chairil Anwar has become the inspiration and spirit of the Indonesian nation through his meaningful words, such as ‘sekali berarti sesudah itu mati’ (once meaningful then it dies; we must be meaningful in life). Indonesia as a nation has to develop its potential to be ‘meaningful’ to its people and the world before the end arrives,” said Yusri.

The judges comprised famous writers Zen Hae, Kharisma Michellia, and Martin Suryajaya. They received a total of 70 literary criticism manuscripts from all over Indonesia. Of the 70 manuscripts, “Chairil Anwar Tak Pedulikan Alam?” by Yusri made it into the top three.

“The judges critically and observantly conveyed the weaknesses of my manuscript. I considered the adjudicator’s notes as motivation so that I would not be satisfied with my writing. Then, I knew and wanted to continue to learn about what I should improve in the future when writing literary criticism,” he said.

Despite having limited time to write the script, he still expressed his gratitude for this achievement.

Yusri has been teaching at the FCS UB for 19 years. Apart from being a lecturer, he is also a writer. His writings have been published in Horison, Kompas, The Jakarta Post, and other media. He has also published some books, such as “Tamu Kota Seoul” and “Surat dari Praha“.

“The Indonesian literature world these days is decorated with the emergence of potential young writers. I hope they can present works that are ‘different’ from the previous writers. Offers and efforts to produce ‘newness’ and uniqueness will be able to encourage young writers to be more creative. I wish the students of the Language and Literature can have the enthusiasm and courage to explore, study, and evaluate literary works,” he hoped. [jc/dts/aaz/PR FCS]