“Will Badrul Mustafa Never Die? Verse from the Front” comprises a series of poetry that incorporates various traditions into modern literary work.
Badrul Mustafa is considered an anti-hero who claims to be loved by everyone in society. He strives to convince one and all of his remarkable abilities—truth-bearer, hero, unrequited lover, and miracle worker—but is constantly baffled by life’s rebuffs and the futility of his self-defeating efforts.
But Badrul Mustafa is not just one person. Instead, he represents an amalgam of absurd and delusional hypocrites who connive to attain power and sow communal discord. This is the “front”, the battle the author fights against the “Badrul Mustafas of all time”. Heru Joni Putra who is the author of the different poems that are in the book decides to incorporate Badrul Mustafa as a character because he symbolises many people in society. I reckon that this book is subject to literary postmodern analysis.
One of the literary postmodern perspective in this book is the way thematization of social development. One of the poems, “Where There Is No Forest, a City Will Do”, depicts a scenario in which the author narrates development that occurs in society. The writer of the poem further asserts that many people do not believe in things that they have not seen. Therefore, the above poem can be applied in real-life situations wherein most instances people take time before they appreciate the change that occurs in their surroundings.
Additionally, in the poem, “Where There Is No Forest”, depicts a scenario in which there is no order in society. One line in the poem indicates that “whatever’s found in cities belong to us all” (p.3). The above words are from a leader, and this implies that he does not support law and order. Notably, the scenarios depict what occurs in the communities that individuals live in. Certain leaders do not lead by example in showing how their followers should behave. Besides, there should be a proper way through which people acquire anything that they want and force should not be applied.
“Irony” is the other feature that portrays a literary postmodern perspective in this book There are numerous poems in the work of Heru that portray irony. Irony is an important element in modern literature since it provides readers or audience with an opportunity to think about what they have read or viewed.
One line that depicts irony is: “The warnings of rulers who keep calling and calling your name even in your best dreams” (p. 5).
However, the above line does not only represent irony, but it also has a meaning. The phrase describes the numerous times that rulers can send a warning to people in the community when something happens.
Playfulness in the work of Heru is the other aspect that depicts literary postmodern perspective. Playfulness has been incorporated in some of the poems to make them interesting to the readers. One of the lines that portray playfulness is: “My name is Badrul Mustafa,” replied the horse turd. “Badrul Mustafa is my name, friend” (p. 5). The horse turd was trying to joke around with the leader. The inclusion of the above line in the poem is aimed at increasing the level of eagerness among readers. Therefore, someone reading it would be interested in knowing what transpired next after the hurt turd joked with Badrul.
The other aspect that portrays literary postmodern perspective in the book is pastiche. Heru has combined more than one element in the poems to make them attractive. For instance, there is a combination of both fiction and fairy tales in the poems.
The line “Badrul asks the elephant, “Who have you seen Across the sea?” (p. 49)
is used to represent a fairy tale and fiction simultaneously. Therefore, after reading one poem in the work of Heru, it is difficult to predict what the others will look like. Readers would be captivated to read the other poems that have been written by the author.
Based on the analysis, it implies that postmodern artists should incorporate features such as pastiche to make their stories unpredictable among readers.
Also, the author has incorporated an aspect of techno culture, and this depicts literary postmodern perspective in this book. Including the aspect of techno culture in literary work is aimed at portraying the way people have embraced technology in their lives. The poem, “When There is No Forest” depicts a scenario in which technology has replaced a lot of thing in society. Additionally, the author has used the poem to symbolise technological changes that the community has to accept. For instance, in the past, many people were accustomed to large chunks of lands that were filled with forests. Today, this is not the case since there are more buildings as compared to forests, and this is an aspect that has been portrayed by Heru in his work.
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The other feature in the work of Heru that depicts postmodern literature is the inclusion of different themes in the book. Some of the themes that have been highlighted by the author include leadership, society, culture, technological change, and the need to embrace modernization among others. The author has incorporated all of the above themes so as to make the poems interesting. Additionally, by including different issues in the poem, the author seeks to convince people that they need to embrace the day-to-day changes that occur in society.
Overall, the book has numerous features that portray literary postmodern perspective, and they include irony, playfulness, pastiche, techno culture, and the incorporation of numerous themes. There are seventy-five poems and they all thematize different things that occur in society. The author has combined the aspects of playfulness, fiction, and fairy tale to make the stories interesting to each reader. Additionally, the work of Heru has incorporated postmodern literature to highlight the things that occur in society. Besides, reading the poems enables individuals to understand that change is inevitable.
The original Indonesian version of the book, “Badrul Mustafa Badrul Mustafa Badrul Mustafa” (Nuansa Cendekia, 2017), was described by the literary critic Nirwan Dewanto as a work of poetry that was outside the two main poetic traditions of Indonesia; lyric poetry and pamphlet poetry. This book was awarded TEMPO Magazine’s Best Book of 2017, the Best Literary in the Wisran Hadi Award of 2019, and entered the shortlist of the 2017 Khatulistiwa Literary Award in two categories, Poetry and First Book.
This book is available in Indonesian bookstores and online. The pandemic is the right moment for us to read one of the Indonesian first-rate works. I hope you will enjoy reading it.
- Donny Syofyan is a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Andalas University.
- Book details:
- Will Badrul Mustafa Never Die? Verse from the Front
- Written by Heru Joni Putra
- Translated by George A. Fowler
- The Lontar Foundation, 2020
- 90 pages