076. East Timorese Poets

Global Voices Online (GVO): How did you have access to Timorese literature during the Indonesian times?

Abe Barreto Soares: During the Indonesian times, while doing my studies in Yogyakarta, I came across books on Timor-Leste such as “EasTimor: Nationalism and Colonialism” by Jill Jollife, a fellow journalist, from Australia. From this book I discovered the late Timorese  poet, Francisco Borja da Costa. One of the lines of his poetry appearing in the book: “smother my revolts/ with the point of your bayonet/ torture my body/in the chains of your empire/ subjugate my soul/ in the faith of your religion…/” really fired the sense of nationalism within me. And through the book “Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor” by José Ramos-Horta (current President of the Republic of Timor-Leste) I discovered Fernando Sylvan.

Pedem-me um minuto de silencio pelos mortos mauberes.
Respondo que nem por um minuto me calarei.

Fernando Sylvan

They ask me one minute of silence for maubere deaths.
I answer that not for one minute shall I shut up.

Fernando Sylvan

(East Timor: Abe Barreto Soares‘ Poetry for Nation Building)

/ Global Voices Online 28.8.

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