Henrikus Joko Yulianto (PhD) teaches at the English Department of State University of Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. He earned his PhD in English (Poetics) from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research interests are in American postwar poetics, environmental humanities, ecopoetics, and animal poetics. He is a member of Beat Studies Association (BSA), Black Mountain College (BMC), ASLE (Association of the Study of Literature and Environment), and ASLE-ASEAN. He has recently contributed book chapters in Environment, Media, and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia (Springer 2022) and Global Perspectives on Nationalism: Political and Literary Discourses (Routledge 2023). ORCID: 0000-0002-3077-9604. E-mail: henriungaran@gmail.com


Phyto-Investigation of the Vegetal Intelligence of Tropical Arborescent Flora in Contemporary Indonesian Poems by Afrizal Malna and Hanna Francisca

Abstract: Plants communicate with humans through their process of growth since they originate from seeds until they evolve into a robust life form. Through this natural metabolism, plants transform their physicality from an early morphology to their later inflorescence. Examples of this process are banana and papaya, tropical plants of Southeast Asia. This paper overviews some of Indonesian contemporary poems that use the images of banana (Musa sapentium) and papaya (Carica papaya) as arborescent floras that simultaneously act as ecological agents with their own values and benefits for humans and nonhumans. These poems include “banana tree november” and “banana tree on an intercity bus” by Afrizal Malna and “The Papaya Tree’s Mistake” by Hanna Francisca. These poems embody phytographic elements as they depict plants, not as sessile objects, but as organic and intelligent organisms that affect humans through their natural growth, as they flower into earthbound bountiful structures. The ways they evolve from seedling to mature stages substantiate plants’ intelligence, expressed through a kind of plant script or “nonverbal forms of expression” (Ryan, 2020) that interweave their inherent vegetal articulations with human’s personal growth from naivety to maturity. Malna’s surrealistic poetics, in juxtaposing banana with cultural artefacts, and Francisca’s phytopoetics, in embracing papaya as a long-standing plant for all seasons, epitomize their way of anthropomorphizing these arborescent plants. This contributes to raising care about the roles of vegetal species for human and nonhuman life on Earth.
Keywords: inflorescence, banana, papaya, phytography, phytopoetics