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Eind december 2010 verscheen bij uitgeverij Pendopo in Yogyakarta (Indonesië) de bundel ‘Palawija’, met Nederlandse gedichten van Albert Hagenaars alsmede, integraal, een Engelse vertaling (van John Irons) en een Indonesische versie (van Agung Soemitro).
In het boek zijn illustraties opgenomen die speciaal bij een van de opgenomen gedichten werden gemaakt door respectievelijk Juni Kusumanto (bij ‘A handful of earth’), Dees Goosen (bij ‘Reunion’), Ivan Sagito (bij ‘The third harvest’), Edith Bons (bij ‘Ancestor’), Entang Wiharso (bij The world’s navel), Arfan Sunyono (bij ‘Yogyakarta’) en Albert Hagenaars zelf (bij ‘Surrender’).


Palawija in Bahasa Indonesia (the official Indonesian language) means 'third harvest'. Each third harvest a different crop is grown in order to protect the fertility of the soil. On the small but in many respects most important island of Java there are generally three harvests a year, two with rice and the next one with a different crop, for example mais and beans.

Dutch poet Albert Hagenaars, when visiting Indonesia (his wife's country of origin), saw symbols in this very old agricultural system he felt he could use in his literary work. He wrote seven poems, focusing on the cycle of life, and gave them the name 'Palawija'.

The translators and artists were invited by Albert Hagenaars.

Six English poems of ‘Palawija’ were published in the Dutch/Flemish anthology ‘Poppies and Chamber Music’, published by Demer Press (Diepenbeek, Belgium) in 2010. Only ‘The third harvest’ was excluded.

Five English poems of ‘Palawija’ were published in the international anthology ‘Voices from Everywhere-International Poets’, published by Demer Press in 2010. ‘The third harvest’ and ‘The world’s navel’ were left out.

‘Surrender’, the last poem of the cycle, was chosen to be put on video. The film, which uses all three versions, is made by Bongers Productions (Hoogerheide, The Netherlands) in 2010. ‘Surrender’ can be watched on You Tube, where more videos with poetry from Albert Hagenaars are available.

All seven Dutch poems of ‘Palawija’ were published in the book ‘Bloedkrans’, meaning ‘Wreath of blood’, by In de Knipscheer (Haarlem, The Netherlands) in 2011.

For more information see:



Foto: Peter Nuytemans.



Het titelgedicht:




Om de bodem niet uit te putten
vervangt men hier na elke tweede oogst
de rijst eenmaal door maïs of bonen,

ter wille van de liefde zachte blikken
door woorden die niet langer verbergen
dat argwaan in lange wortels wroet.

Tot in de laagste en de hoogste vorm
van de Javaanse taal moeten mijn geduld
en leergierigheid en belofte beproefd.

Verstoten vrouw of meesteres, jij verkiest
de keuze van een man zonder kaste,
zonder eer, zonder waar geloof.

Jij zult smeken en gebieden,
jij zult bukken en verheven zijn,
jij zult weten wat het wil zeggen

te leven buiten de vertrouwde krans
van moessons en oogsten,

buiten de opbrengst van je schoot.


So as not to exhaust the soil the rice
after each second harvest is replaced
once by maize or beans,
for the sake of love soft looks
by words that no longer conceal
that suspicion burrows in deep roots.
To the very lowest and the highest form
of the Javanese language my patience and
eagerness to learn and pledge are to be tested.
Repudiated wife or mistress, you prefer
to choose a man without caste,
without honour, without true belief.
You will beg and command,
you will bow down and be exalted,
you will know what it means
to live outside the familiar rotation
of monsoons and harvests

outside the yield of your womb.



Untuk tidak menguras dasar tanah
setelah panen kedua disini
padi diganti palawija.

Untuk menyelamatkan cinta pandangan lembut
melalui kata kata yang tidak tersembunyi lagi
bahwa kecurigaan menjalar.

Sampai di taraf terendah dan tertinggi
dari bahasa Jawa kesabaranku dan semangatku
belajar dan janjiku harus teruji

Wanita terbuang atau ratu, kamu memilih
pilihan seorang laki laki tanpa kasta,
tanpa tahta, tanpa kepercayaan yang sungguh.

Kamu akan memohon dan paksa,
kamu akan bersujud dan disembah
kamu akan tahu artinya

hidup diluar lingkaran yang terpercaya
penghujan, kemarau dan panen

di luar hasil rahim.



Ivan Sagita in zijn atelier in Yogyakarta. Foto: AH.


Ivan Sagita met zijn bijdrage. Foto: AH.


Entang Wiharso in zijn atelier in Prambanan. Foto: AH.


Entang Wiharso tijdens het afmaken van zijn aquarel. Foto: AH.


Edith Bons in haar atelier in Delft. Foto: AH.


Juni Pattimahu-Kusumanto in haar atelier in Roosendaal. Foto: AH.


Dees Goosen in haar atelier in Bergen op Zoom. Foto: AH.


Indonesian born Juni Kusumanto (º1957) has lived in The Netherlands since the age of twelve. She attended the Academy of Arts in Breda. Now, after many exhibitions throughout the country, she is seeking a dialogue with contemporary art in Indonesia and in other Southeast Asian countries.
Despite her Indonesian roots, Juni does not let herself be restricted in this respect:. “If imposed by my Indonesian background, my hand would be clumsily and unnaturally steered. If feeling free, new or hidden elements –either Indonesian features or western elements- may unfold and take shape. When drawing or painting, my hand is directed to draw lines on blank material or on traces of previous lines and forms. The repetitive wiping, redrawing and improving of lines is my learning process and game-like labour –as in real life- in order to eventually present a balanced creation.”
In her works, forms and lines –some strong, others subtler- are given shape in such a way that these become either figurative or abstract in character. The artist mainly uses black and white. Symbolically, white may project neutrality or sacredness. On the other hand, it can represent an extreme atmosphere of brightness and heat. Black may symbolize the negative (e.g. as in black magic) while in a positive way, black can mean the unlimited or the untouchable. For her drawings and paintings the artist uses acrylic paint, oil paint, pencil, crayon, stylus and ink on paper, canvas or synthetic material.
Translation: Yanti Kusumanto


Dees Goosen was born in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1958. She grew up in the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom and studied at the international Craftschool for Gold-& Silversmithing, Clock-& Watchmaker, Jewellery and Glass Art in Schoonhoven (The Netherlands).
Although she uses several media, she turned out to be an artist with unique skills for painting. Her work represents two worlds of impressions, feelings and experiences: her Dutch as well as her Indonesian background. Especially the latter leads to an ‘inner homeland’, more firmly so since the artist visited Singapore and Indonesia.
The paintings, mainly produced with acryl, express a non-figurative realm, consisting of powerful but nevertheless subtle forms. Many layers materialize her feeling of living in the two mentioned worlds. Each work becomes the imaginary map of a domain she is always trying to reach mentally. The bright colors, mainly red, yellow and blue, want to give the viewer positive impressions of how the world could be.
Dees Goosen had exhibitions in The Netherlands (Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Utrecht, Breda, Bergen op Zoom) and Belgium (Ghent) and organized workshops in these countries as well as in France. At the moment she is also working, with fellow-artists, on a project in Yogyakarta.


Ivan Sagito (º1957), who also operates under the alias Ivan Sagita, was born in Malang (East Java). He studied painting at the Faculty of Art and Design (ISI) in Yogyakarta (1979-1985) and earned a Fellowship Artists in Residence - Vermont Studio Centre in the USA in 2003. He has skills in several artistic disciplines but is known mostly for his painting and sculpture. His work distinguishes itself with realistic reproduction, psychological charges and the quest for what’s behind the scenes we think we observe. Often there is a tacit tension between the individual and the group, between individual development and conformism. In the words of Claire Wolf Krantz: “Sagito depicts puppets and masks, humans and animals in landscape settings. His figures are lonely but never alone; although seen in groups, they are separated from each other and neither look at nor touch one another. The figures' incompleteness and lack of stability imply a feeling of uprootedness: unlike group identity, an emerging self has no fixed definitions.” (from: ‘Report from Indonesia: On their own terms’). Ivan Sagito had solo exhibitions in Australia, Indonesia, The Netherlands and the USA and joined group exhibitions in China, Japan, Singapore and South Africa. He won the Award Biennale Seni Lukis Jakarta twice, in 1987 and 1989, and was also rewarded with a Silver Medal at the Osaka Triennale 1996 as well as with the Mainchi Broadcasting System Prize 1998 for his sculpture, also in Japan.


Edith Bons (º1952) was born in Merauke, New Guinea, in eastern Indonesia. The family moved to Groningen, The Netherlands, in 1962. There she attended the Minerva Academy of Arts (1980-1985). After her study she visited Indonesia regularly and also lived there for quite some time, together with her Javanese husband, poet Winarko Boesrie. In 2010 Edith celebrated her activities as an artist for 25 years with a special exhibition in her new hometown Delft.
In her work eastern and western influences are combined in order to examine her Dutch East Indian identity. Therefore it is hardly surprising to see her work come into existence with palm leaf, grains of rice, fragments of buffalo leather and pieces of batik fabric rather than paint. These materials help to strengthen the relation between ritual and modern art. The artist nevertheless makes sure her products don’t become too “exotic”. Edith Bons also creates installations on a large scale, mainly built up with rice, literally heaps of rice, as could be seen in the important exhibition in Karta Pustaka (the Indonesian-Dutch Cultural Centre) in Yogyakarta. Her fascination with rice is one of the reasons Albert Hagenaars invited her to join the ’Palawija’ project.
Since 2003 the artist focuses on new themes. Her relation with the country of origin has become less important but remains embedded in what she calls “a more universal subject-matter”. Edith Bons had exhibitions in The Netherlands and Indonesia.


Productive artist Entang Wiharso (º 1967) was born in the town of Tegal, Central Java and graduated in 1994 as Bachelor of Fine Art in painting at ISI (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Yogyakarta. Watching wayang performances as a child motivated him to become an artist.
Some of his points of interest are: 1) structural boredom in the modern art world, 2) visual language in communication, 3) tradition as rebellion and 4) symbols in visual language as a hiding place.
In the late nineties he experienced friction between the traditional and modern world, one of the reasons to move to America, where he was confronted with confusion once again. These experiences forced him to focus on themes like identity, alienation and intercultural encounters. “Entang Wiharso’s haunting images are hard to understand or explain. One has to come and see, absorb and delve into the layers of the artist’s frustration, anger and anxiety, but also into his ultimate resolve to keep hoping for our salvation from the imminent danger of destruction.”  Carla Bianpoen in her critical review 'Entang Wiharso: Love me or die', The Jakarta Post, 28-10-2010.
He won many awards and had solo exhibitions in Indonesia, Hong Kong and the USA (where he and his American wife sometimes live in Foster, Rhode Island). So far he joined group exhibitions in China, Finland, Italy, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Russia and Spain.
Entang lives and works in his Black Goat Studio in Prambanan, Java.


Arfan Sunyono (º1990) was born in Tawangmangu, a town on the slopes of Mount Lawu, near the kraton-city of Solo (Surakarta) in Central Java. His deceased father was a skilled wayang kulit worker (wayang kulit refers to flat puppets cut out of buffalo leather), his mother and two sisters sing and dance during traditional performances.
After high school, SMA, he studied one year at the Art Institute of Indonesia Surakarta (the former STSI) until lack of money forced him to stop. Since then he takes private lessons with painter Slamet Rohman and sculptor Sugeng Sumarmo in exchange for all kinds of errands.
Although his career just got underway, he already had a few exhibitions in Solo: in restaurant Solo Mio, a local technical school and Galeri Monyet Biru. He prefers painting and drawing but also uses other techniques, like stone carving and photomontage. His works show a special interest in Islam but at the same time in the old temples in the neighborhood, in the first place the mysterious Sukuh, dating from the Majapahit era. He likes working with musicians and poets. In this respect he designs stages for a gamelan orchestra in the neighborhood where he lives at present.
Arfan believes art should be both modern and respectful towards tradition. He regularly quotes Paul Gauguin: “The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art's audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.”


John Irons was born in the English town of Harrogate in 1942. He studied modern languages at Cambridge, before doing research in Dutch and completing his doctorate on The development of Imagery in the Poetry of P.C. Boutens.
He moved to Scandinavia in 1968 and has lived most of the time since then in the Danish city of Odense, in the middle of the quiet island of Fyn.
He has been active as a translator of poetry for many years. His translations of Dutch poetry include such writers as Hugo Claus, Albert Hagenaars, Gerrit Komrij, Rutger Kopland en Victor Vroomkoning. He is a regular contributor to Poetry International in Rotterdam.
John Irons also translates from Danish, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish. He has translated work by such authors as Klaus Høeck (Denmark), Torild Wardenær (Norway), Lars Gustafsson (Sweden) and Friedrich Hebbel and Friedrich Hölderlin (Germany) into English.
Besides poetry, his translations specialise in art, philosophy and education. A complete list of his activities can be found at:
In 2007 John Irons made his debut as a poet, by publishing the collection ‘Pa’ in both English and Dutch (translated by Eva Gerlach). Recently he has also translated ‘Pa’ into Danish.


Agung Soemitro was born in Indonesia’s second largest metropolis Surabaya in 1967. Although he was interested in literature, he studied accountancy at Universitas Narutama in the same city and worked with the bank BDNI for several years.
In the meantime he was active for AFS (American Field Service), an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. The activities are based on the core values of dignity, respect for differences, harmony, sensitivity and tolerance.
In 1997 he visited The Netherlands for the first time and decided to emigrate to the country where he already had friends. Two years later he arrived again, this time to stay. He took up residence in Bergen op Zoom and successfully studied NT2 (Dutch as a Second Language), including Dutch culture.
He worked unofficially as a translator for the foundation SCI-INN (Stichting Sociaal Cultureel Instituut Indonesië-Nederland) in Rijsbergen, which focuses on education and culture, scientific exchange, Indo-European heritage, emancipation of women and travel consults.
After his studies he preferred to work for international firms such as the Japanese company Ricoh, which moved its European distribution centre to Bergen op Zoom, and logistics enterprises like DHL and Mepavex.