John Mateer

John Mateer



John Mateer is a poet, writer and curator. He has published books in Australia, the UK, Austria and Portugal, and the prose Semar’s Cave: an Indonesian Journal and The Quiet Slave. His most recent book of poems is Unbelievers, or ‘The Moor’. With the Cocos Malay community, he wrote an account of the settlement of the Cocos-Keeling Islands for a sound installation. During his residency at Hotel Penaga he will research the historical encounters between the Malay peoples and the Asian and European traders; focusing on the peripheral, Asian characters in the 17th century epic The Conquest of Malacca.



Following my previous projects related to European colonial encounters in Asia, foremost Southern Barbarians and Unbelievers, or ‘The Moor’, I have become interested in investigating the canonical texts of those encounters to see what understanding the explorers had of the local cultures. Often they disguised their knowledge and their
surprising sympathies. I have mostly looked to Portuguese accounts, the most famous of which are Fernão Mendes Pinto’s prose Peregrinaçam and the earlier epic poem, Os Lusiadas, by Luis vas de Camões. The latter is not only the subject of poems in Southern Barbarians, but also of The Bones of the Epic, my project with the Lisbon puppet-master Delfim Miranda and
art-noise ensemble A Favola da Madusa.

Now, after researching the slave-trade in South-east Asia as it influenced the forebears of the Cocos Malays who lived first in Malacca in the early 19th Century, I would like to write a long poem based on the Asian figures who appear in the periphery of a now largely forgotten Portuguese epic, Francisco de Sá de Meneses’ The Conquest of Malacca. These include the ‘kings’ of Sumatra, Malacca and Korea, and other characters from Cathay and Siam.

Due to my recent engagement with translation and sound production, even though the long poems will be written as in English, I aim to have it translated into both Malay and Portuguese, and produced, ultimately, either as a performance or multi-media work. I have started discussions about this with translators and others in Portugal, Singapore and Malaysia.

John was a resident artist in Hotel Penaga from December 2016 to end January 2017, supported by Asialink.


  • Shortlisted for the Inaugural Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, and for the Victorian and New South Wales Premier’s prizes for poetry. 2012
  • Centenary Medal for my “contribution to Australian culture and society”. 2003
  • Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. 2001

Irwan Sofwan

Irwan Sofwan

Irwan Sofwan is a poet and writer from Indonesia. His biography is written below in his mother tongue with a rough translation appended after:

Irwan lahir dan tinggal di Serang, Banten – Indonesia. Karya-karyanya terdapat dalam beberapa buku antologi puisi bersama, di antaranya: Dari Batas Waktu ke Perjalanan Kamar sampai Kabar dari Langit (2006), Candu Rindu (2009), Akulah Musi (2011), Narasi Tembuni (2012) dan juga di beberapa media massa.

Sehari-hari ia bekerja sebagai guru Bahasa dan Sastera Indonesia di SMP PGRI 2 Kota Serang dan aktif berkegiatan di Kubah Budaya (Komunitas untuk Perubahan Budaya) – sebuah komunitas sastera dan budaya yang didirikannya bersama Wan Anwar (alm) dan beberapa kawan satu angkatan. Ia kemudian dipercaya menjabat sebagai ketua Kubah Budaya dari tahun 2006 ke 2009. Bergelut dan berdiskusi bersama komunitas membuatnya lebih mencintai dunia sastera dan semakin terjerumus ke dalam belantara puisi. Puisi seolah menjadi magnet yang menarik keinginannya untuk selalu menulis dan berkarya, meski ia juga sesekali menulis esei dan beberapa artikel yang berkaitan dengan sastera  dan dunia pendidikan.

Baginya, menulis puisi adalah mencatat kehidupan. Mengekalkan sekaligus menyatukan pengetahuan, pengalaman batin dan pikiran untuk kemudian dilepaskan mengarungi lautan kehidupan itu sendiri. Dalam lawatannya ke Rimbun Dahan sebagai artist resident, ia berharap dan akan berusaha untuk menemukan pengetahuan dan pengalaman-pengalaman itu – yang seutuhnya baru – untuk diolah kembali menjadi karya-karya yang memiliki corak berbeda dengan karya-karya yang ia tulis sebelumnya.

Sekarang, Irwan sedang menyiapkan puisi-puisinya untuk diterbitkan dalam sebuah buku yang akan menjadi buku kumpulan puisi pertamanya. Menjadi penyair dan guru adalah hal yang tidak pernah ia cita-citakan semenjak kecil, namun ia bersyukur dapat menjalaninya sekarang ini. Ia pun percaya dengan apa yang dituliskan Herwan FR (penyair, guru dan sahabat) dalam sebuah ulasan untuknya, “Penyair yang baik adalah penyair yang santun. Penyair yang santun adalah penyair yang rendah hati. Penyair yang santun dan rendah hati, berkemungkinan besar termasuk penyair yang beriman dan beraamal sholeh, sehingga terhindar dari azab Tuhan, karena penyair, menurut tuhan, adalah orang yang suka mengembara ke lembah-lembah khayalan. Maka sebagai penyair dan guru adalah sebuah kenikmatan yang harus disyukuri, sebagaimana seorang penyair dan sekaligus kyai.”

Irwan was born and lives in Serang, Baten in Indonesia. His works have appeared in a few poetry anthologies, such as Dari Batas Waktu ke Perjalanan Kamar sampai Kabar dari Langit (2006), Candu Rindu (2009), Akulah Musi (2011), Narasi Tembuni (2012) and have also appeared in other mass media.

His day job is as a teacher of Indonesian language and literature SMP PGRI 2 Kota Serang, and he is also active in Kubah Budaya (Community to Change Culture) – a cultural and literary community founded by himself, colleague and friend Wan Anwar, and a few other peers. Irwan was entrusted with the heading Kubah Budaya from 2006 to 2009. Engaging and conversing with the community increased and deepened his love for literature and involvement with poetry. Poetry to him became like a magnet for his deep interest in writing every day; he has also written a few essays about the world of literature and education.

To him, writing poetry is to record life, a way to preserve as well as unite knowledge, experience, and thought to then be released into the flow and waves of each person’s life. During his residency at Rimbun Dahan, he hopes to discover new knowledge and experiences to be formed into works that contain different patterns to works he has written before.

Currently, Irwan is working on writing poems for his first poetry collection. Being a teacher and a poet was something he never even dreamed of, but he is grateful now for the opportunity to be both. He believes in what Herman FR (poet, teacher, and friend) once wrote, “A good poet is a poet that is a mannered poet. A mannered poet is a humble poet. A mannered and humble poet has a high likelihood of becoming a poet of deep belief and piety, escaping the punishments of God – because poets, according to God, are those who like to explore the wilderness of fantasy and the imagination. Therefore to be both a poet and a teacher is a pleasure to be appreciated.”

Irwan Sofwan 2

Irwan Sofwan

Kafayat Quadri

Kafayat Quadri

Kafayat Quadri is a poet (poetographer), singer-songwriter, music producer and a certified attorney. She was the first African to speak and perform at the TEDxKLwomen, Malaysia in 2013. Her music and poetry have been performed on the stages of George Town Literary Festival, KAKISENI International Arts Festival, Generation-Y Music Festival, Lake Garden Music Festival, Coffee & Fringe Art Festival, and so on.

Her first album ‘KQ the EP’ which she co-produced with Aman Junaid, a Grammy Award Recipient and her second album ‘April 16′, instrumentals in honour of her mother can both be found on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music & VEVO. Her prose poem was recently shortlisted by the PWDC Writers Workshop by Bernice Chauly for the End Violence Against Women Campaign & GTLF 2015. She is a recipient of the Hotel Penaga Artist Residency 2016 and her first poetry collection is due to be published by Garden Bench in the same year.

In anticipation of her first collection of poems, Kafayat is working on interpreting some of the poems from the upcoming poetry collection, Aquarius, alongside her photography as printed on canvas, which would be exhibited at the Penaga Hotel at the end of her residency. The photography exhibition would be from the 30th January until the 29th of February 2016.

Also, during her residency, she would commence work on the composition of the music to be featured in her 3rd album in collaboration some Malaysian rappers and poets (especially the Penang-based ones) for her newly found music & poetry genre – RAPCOUSTICS, which comprises mainly of a single musical instrument accompanied to a rap or poetry rendition with musical choruses at intervals which would come from a direct and on-spot musical interpretation of the poem or rap as rendered by the featured artist.

She is the founder and the Managing Editor of the Poetry Digest Magazine in Nigeria and hopes to get the world reading, writing and sharing poetry everyday.

Omar Musa

Omar Musa

Omar bin Musa (b. 1984) is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. He won the Australian Poetry Slam in 2008 and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2009. He has released two solo hip hop records (The Massive EP and World Goes to Pieces), two self-published books (The Clocks and Parang) and a self-titled album with international hip hop group MoneyKat. His debut novel Here Come The Dogs was published in 2014. Here Come the Dogs received praise from novelists Irvine Welsh and Christos Tsiolkas, was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

Omar is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran. He studied at the Australian National University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Omar has combined hip hop music and poetry throughout his career. He was runner up in the 2008 Australian Poetry Slam, before winning in 2009 at the Sydney Opera House. He went on to win the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2010. In 2010 he also did support for Gil Scott-Heron in Munich, Germany. In 2011 he was a guest panellist on ABC’s Q&A. In 2013 he received a standing ovation at TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House.

He has been a guest at numerous international writers festivals, including Jaipur Literary Festival in India and the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in Indonesia, as well as touring extensively in Asia, Europe and Australia. He has collaborated with numerous musicians and hip hop artists, including Akala, Soweto Kinch, Impossible Odds, The Last Kinection, Hau Latukefu from Koolism, Candice Monique, The Tongue, Lotek, Koolta and Geoff Stanfield.

He did a split residency in Hotel Penaga and Rimbun Dahan from June to August 2015.

Mike Ladd

In 2009, Australian poet Mike Ladd spent some time at Rimbun Dahan working on four-lined poems inspired by the Malaysian pantun form, as well as writing a prose fiction work about corruption and the world trade in orangutans as pets.

In July 2010 Mike Ladd launched “The Eye of the Day”, a film poem he made during his residency at Rimbun Dahan, at the Lit Up Festival in Singapore. The film features Rumah Uda Manap, the restored Perak kampung house at Rimbun Dahan. Former resident artist Tony Twigg exhibited the film at his Slot Gallery in Sydney.

In September 2010, “The Eye of the Day” won equal first prize for the best new media poem at the Overload Poetry Festival in Melbourne.



Mike Ladd is currently producer and presenter of ABC Radio National’s poetry program PoeticaThis link will open in a new window..

Born in 1959, he grew up at Blackwood in the Adelaide Hills. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy at Adelaide University, he began to publish his poetry widely in Australia. He has often collaborated with musicians, including the groups The Drum Poets and newaural net. Mike has published 6 books of poetry. The latest, Transit, was published by Five Islands Press in 2007.

In 2006 he was awarded the Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship at the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and was a guest of Venezuela’s World Poetry Festival.

Works in Progress

Here are some of the “Pantun Rimbun Dahan” in progress during Mike’s residency:


I start the great four-bladed ceiling fan.
Seconds later, a gecko drops to the floor,
stunned. Yes, the world’s like that.
We all hang on as long as we can.


From the estate’s wall grey macaques leap
into the laden mango tree.
From your side of the bed, you told me to sleep,
but the night’s so warm, and I want something juicy.


Oil palms, oil palms, oil palms, oil palms.
Freeways, freeways, freeways, freeways.
Oil palms, oil palms, oil palms, oil palms.
Smoke-haze, smoke-haze, smoke-haze, smoke-haze.


In the warm evening, smoke drifts from the end
of a sweet and unhurried clove cigarette.
Your mind has thinned, then gone, old friend.
But the sense you made, I won’t forget.


That cicada sounds like a dentist,
drilling all day into my eye-tooth nerve.
Shrilling on and on about Time,
everything you love,  but can’t preserve.


Out of the sky of luminous black
rain falls joyfully. You and I
who lived so long alone together
now walk again under one umbrella.

Nicholas Wong

Nicholas Wong

nicholasWong Yoke Hin Nicholas took up a one-month residency at Rimbun Dahan in August 2008. He read some of his poetry in an informal presentation in the Underground Gallery on 25 August 2008. During his residency, he worked on pieces about Malaysian flora and fauna, as part of his first poetry collection.


Nicholas Wong was born in Selangor, Malaysia. He was a recipient of the 2008 Academy of American Poets Award while at Columbia University, where he will soon commence his second year in Comparative Literature and Society. He has also received the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2006 and the Singapore Young Dramatists Award for playwriting, among other awards.

His publication credits include The Rialto, Softblow, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Tablet and he has been featured in several local newspapers and magazines. He has read his poetry at Dram Projects, Seksan Gallery, National University of Singapore, MPH Bangsar Village and No Black Tie. He was also one of the judges for “50 Years, 50 Heroes: Young Malaysians You Need to Know” essay writing competition, and was part of the editorial team for Inkyhands, an e-zine to promote new Malaysian writing. He was proud to host Preeta Samarasan for her reading of her debut novel Evening is the Whole Day at Barnes & Noble, Columbia University. Besides writing, he loves playing the piano and harpsichord, and is currently learning how to cook.

Patricia Sykes

Patricia Sykes

Australian poet and librettist Patricia Sykes spent her 2006 residency at Rimbun Dahan working on the libretto for a full-length opera, The Navigator, a collaborative work with composer Liza Lim. Sykes travelled through Malaysia and to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat researching culture and society in order to enrich her libretto and develop the theatrical aspects of the opera. Sykes is the author of two poetry collections and has edited four books of poetry.  Her work focuses strongly on the interactions between people and their contexts and her residency helped explore how a host culture nurtures itself, its people and the environment.

Supported by the Australia Council.

Jayne Fenton Keane

In 2005, Australian poet Jayne Fenton-Keane spent an Asialink residency in India, Singapore, and at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia.

Jayne Fenton-Keane is a poet, new media artist and composer who takes poetry to different spaces with her poetry-sound fusions, installations and performances. The author of three poetry books, Torn, Ophelia’s Codpiece and The Transparent Lung, Keane is an award winner in several genres, is completing a doctorate on embodiment and spatial poetics, and the founding Director of National Poetry Week. During her residency Keane explored pilgrimage as a creative method for inviting new knowledge into her writing. Activities included a residency at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia, a residency at the Singapore Poetry Festival and appearances with the CGH Earth Chain in India.

Adam Aitken

Australian poet Adam Aitken undertook an Asialink Residency at Rimbun Dahan in 1998. Adam spent his residency working on his poetry and researching Malaysian cabaret. The resulting collection, Romeo and Juliet in Subtitles, was published to critical acclaim by Brandl and Schlesinger.

During his residency, he also wrote the catalogue essay for the exhibition of fellow Asialink artist Matt Calvert.

Adam Aitken is a NSW based poet and fiction writer who has had two books of poetry published, Letter to Marco Polo and In One House. He was also the associate editor of Australian literary journal HEAT.

View the artist’s website:

Jan Owen

Jan Owen

janJan Owen, Resident Poet at Rimbun Dahan in 1997, is a South Australian who now lives in the country outside Adelaide. Since 1985 she has worked as a writer, a creative writing teacher and an editor. She has published four previous books of poetry, including Boy with a Telescope, Fingerprints on Light and Blackberry Season, and her prizes include the Anne Elder and Mary Gilmore Awards for her first book, and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize in 2000.

In 2002, Jan Owen launched her collection of poetry Timedancing at the South Australia Writer’s Centre in Adelaide. Tom Shapcott, Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide, who launched the ceremony, called it “a luminous book.”

'Air and Edge,' Jan's poem dedicated to Hijjas Kasturi's architecture.

‘Air and Edge,’ Jan’s poem dedicated to Hijjas Kasturi’s architecture.

Timedancing contains poems inspired by Jan’s residency at Rimbun Dahan, as well as by her travels to Thailand, Italy and Spain, and is marked by her eye for sensuous detail and by her appreciation for the value and beauty of everyday objects.

To buy a copy of Timedancing, contact Five Islands Press, PO Box U34, Wollongong University, 2500 Australia.
Fax (612) 4272 7392.

Previous versions of some of the poems in Timedancing appeared in Illuminated Leaves, an online exhibition of poetry and art at, also featuring the works of Margot Wiburd and Noël Norcross.

The cover illustration for Timedancing is a detail of a watercolour by Thornton Walker, Resident Artist at Rimbun Dahan in 1997.