mBoel: Sapardi Djoko Damono's Love Poems for His Wife

Updated: Mar 15

A collection of 80 poems by the late poet Sapardi Djoko Damono (SDD) written for his wife, Sonya Sondakh, was officially released by Gramedia Pustaka Utama. The book, entitled mBoel, was launched on a simple event that took place Monday afternoon (10/8) at the SDD’s residence, Ciputat, South Tangerang, and was broadcast via Instagram Live @gramediabooks.

(Literasia Creativa)

“The last one is for the most beloved. This is the case with mBoel, as it became Sapardi Djoko Damono's most personal collection of poetry written for his wife. The last 80 poems by Sapardi in this book record the heartfelt conversations between Sapardi and mBoel, which both, of course, spoken with great affection and love, "said Mirna Yulistianti, Head of Literature Division at Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

The process of creating mBoel began when four of Sapardi's poems, namely Hujan Bulan Juni (June Rain)’, ‘Aku Ingin (I Want)’, ‘Di Restoran (In the Restaurant)’, dan ‘Ketika Kau Tak Ada (When You’re Not Here)’ were published in newspapers in 1989. Sapardi photocopied and saved parts of the newspaper, while the original writing was sent to Sonya, or mBoel as he affectionately called her, who was then studying in Paris.

These four poems — which became widely recognized as an integral part of Sapardi's growth as a poet — were supposed to have started this book. However, because they were become much well known and published in several books, made into songs, and read by tens of thousands of listeners and readers alike, Sapardi did not publish these poems except for the one entitled "Ketika Kau Tak Ada (When You're Not Here)", after having changed their visual form.

"The manuscript has been prepared by SDD about two years ago. It is planned to be published on my birthday, August this year. He planned everything by himself, as one of his plans in 2020" said Sonya.

His wish eventually came true, even without his presence. mBoel, which is a form of tribute and thanks from SDD to his life partner for decades, is officially published on Sonya’s birthday, 10 August 2020.

After its official launch, mBoel is scheduled to be published in hardcover and will be available to purchase starting August 17th. This will be a special one for SDD's fans because all the poetry within the book is brand new and has never been published in any printed media.


Sapardi Djoko Damono was born in Solo on March 20, 1940. Sapardi has published more than 50 books: poetry, short stories, literary theory, and cultural studies - both original and translation works. The first book of poetry entitled duka Mu Abadi (1969) was published by his friend, Jeihan Sukmantoro; after that successively published two books, Mata Pisau and Akuarium (1974) by an indie publisher, Puisi Indonesia. Poetry collection Hujan Bulan Juni, Melipat Jarak, Perahu Kertas, Sihir Hujan, Ayat-ayat Api, Namaku Sita, Sutradara Itu Menghapus Dialog Kita, Kolam, dan Perihal Gendis were published consecutively until 2019. His final work mBoel 80 is published in August 2020.

Sapardi has also published two trilogy novels, Soekram Trilogy and Hujan Bulan Juni, and two novels, Suti and Segi Tiga in addition to several short story books, among others, Sepasang Sepatu Tua and Menghardik Gerimis. Since 1968 he published several essays and books on literary theory, including Sosiologi Sastra, Tirani Demokrasi, dan Ideologi, Politik, dan Sastra Hibrida, and Sihir Rendra: Permainan Makna.

He was a correspondent in a scientific journal published by SOAS, London, and serves as the dean of FIB-UI. His activities have earned him awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Awards from Freedom Institute (2013), Akademi Jakarta (2012), Majlis Sastera Asia Tenggara (2014), The Habibie Center (2016), dan Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (2018).