Singapore Book Launch Update for INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE.

Singapore Writers Festival Book launch:


Author: Max Lane

DATE / TIME: 6 Nov, Sun 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

VENUE:  The Arts House, Gallery II, Singapore

This is a collection of poetry, prose pieces and short stories inspired by the experiences of Max Lane, translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet and collaborator with other Indonesian and Southeast Asian intellectuals and actors in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

The book launch will comprise:

An IN CONVERSATION session with author Max Lane. Lane will talk about his 45 years of experience with Indonesia and Southeast Asian and its relationship to this collection as well as his work on a major creative non-fiction book on the origins and meaning for Indonesia of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind Buru Quartet novels.

But there is also a second Max Lane, a Singaporean, a musician. He has written music to some of the poetry. There will be some playing of these musicalized poems. (see below for more info). Continue reading “Singapore Book Launch Update for INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE.”

POEM: Kelud’s Grey Beauty – by Max Lane

Kelud’s Grey Beauty

Unheard here, Kelud erupts and its fine grey anger reaches for space. Its chariot, the streaming wind currents, carries its message afar, to the west. Grey beauty settles across a city, fogging the air, snowing the trees, caking the asphalt. Through open windows and vent holes. invisible snakes of dust sneak inside. Wisps of finest ash are knocked by breezes from the trees falling lazily onto the ground and floating sucked into human lungs. Masks protect the lungs from poison as bent backs and hoses clean and clean. This is far away from the rumbling anger. There, in Kelud’s sovereign territory where some have died and many are homeless?

POEM: Big bang in the universe

There was no big bang out there in space
Reality always was and will be
Never ending distance, never ending time
One more orbit by less than a spec around a glowing dot

A raised fist by a smiling heart for a future freedom
Fills the infinite void, explodes more brilliantly than any big bang
And a revolution can create a new universe
Shimmering more than any sun star.


The trains are the chariots of the people
Carriages ripple with tired tongues of many lands
A lonely man sick with nostalgia for fireworks in the dark
sits across from us and talks intensely
A head on my shoulder whispers new year love talk
The train jerks forwards, happy new year chattily announces the driver
Hands squeeze
Young people hug
Workers sleepy, gaze
Stations come and go


POEM: Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng).

We were talking about food last night and a memory came back to me – for the umpteenth time.

Narrow and dark and most of all hot. If I ended up at a back table, 3 or 4 metres inside, the sweat would pour from forehead and my hair would be wet enough to comb again in just 20 seconds. And the prickly heat itchiness would invade. Better to get a table at front, and visit only at night. So narrow, maybe 2 or 3 metres, and even narrower at the front – maybe one metre or 1.5 metres. It was narrower at the front because half the width was taken up with the kitchen. Sitting at the front one was almost being on the footpath. Sabang Street, in central Jakarta, in 1969 was a fun street. It was almost all restaurants, cafes and other eateries, with a row of Chinese owned general stores – also selling smuggled gin – and another row of photocopy shops, so needed for all the documents necessary for almost every activity in Indonesia.

In 69, there were still few cars. Becak trishaws dominated. No traffic, and the uneven sidewalk was enjoyable to walk along. At the right time of the year, small mountains of glowing red and hairy rambutan fruit added both visual and taste colour. The Padang restaurants still sold juicy, chilli spicy, beef rendang coated in its rich, thick, deep black coconut sauces. In the back lane that run along behind the shops, in the midst of jammed in, crammed in, packed in semi-slum houses, the kitchens cooking the rendang let out a steam engine sound as the huge stoves applied their massive heat to the giant drums of stewing beef, and coconut and chilli and a hundred other spices. And the aroma …..

Continue reading “POEM: Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng).”

ON BALI: four pieces (2 poems, 2 essays).


Green, deep green
Chlorophyll blinds the eyes keen
Black earth, brown aches
Sticky mud between toes cakes.

Tears irrigate the picture
painted under the labouring harvest’s stricture
Paddy, palms, coconuts, frangipanis
Creations of peasant hands canny.

Rice sold and eaten
Suffices to keep deep want beaten
But for the future there are no savings
School, culture, dignity unsatisfied cravings.

Green beauty massages the soul
A rested spirit is the tourist’s dole.
The holy dollar has bought the view
Aching fingers sculpt paradise for the few.

Melbourne, 2010

+++++++++++++ Continue reading “ON BALI: four pieces (2 poems, 2 essays).”