Thursday, May 8, 2014


Archipelagogo Love Songs to Indonesia by Jan Cornall
This unique collection of songs, poems and stories pays tribute to Jan’s travels around Indonesia in the decade beginning 2002. While many of them are written for Jan’s musical performances this book immerses you in her evocative, hilarious, playful and original creations of words , words, words. The beautiful illustrations and the way the text is presented contribute to the delicious pleasure of dipping into this erotic pool of poems again and again.
The songs/poems are enhanced by reading them aloud allowing their cadence, rhythm, alliteration and imagery to come alive. However, if you choose to read them silently they also have another story to tell. I love her depiction of cultural difference which she sometimes turns upside down as in the delightful poem Married Men where she imagines how their wives may be pursuing erotic adventures just like them. Jogya Cowboy is another such song and Jan comments that if he had a horse he would ride like John Wayne but instead he is small in stature, rides a Vespa and is so charismatic you can’t help falling under his spell. When you read the poem you believe her and want to catch the first plane to Yogyakarta in Java and not just to wander among the Buddhas.
Erotic hilarity reaches new heights in the song Follow that Thing featuring the lament of wives which easily crosses cultures and cannot fail to bring a smile, a laugh, a grimace and a nod of recognition.
Other poems and stories show us the shadow side of eroticism but they never fail to intrigue and bring both joy and sadness to the reader. The Balinese ‘folk tale’ of the woman with seven husbands is such fun but has a message of loving presence that transcends the stereotypes of age and place. There isn’t a single poem or story I could suggest you skip even the chilling House of a Thousand Doors which evokes its history of torture and death.  
When you are near of the book there is a special treat in store for you in the wonderfully moving poem Little Mother. After her mother’s death Jan imagines her presence wherever she goes so that her mother becomes part of the landscape and the people that Jan loves so much. It is impossible not to have tears in your eyes and love in your heart as you read this poem.
This book is a treasure trove of sensual, literary and musical delights revealingly embedded in Indonesian culture and place.  
Narelle Scotford, author, singer, lover.

Archipelagogo It is certainly a book filled with desire, culture, vibrancy and colour which give the reader  insight into the deepest exploration of the exotic and erotic dreams of every woman. The writer certainly expresses her love for Indonesia – which in my bones is the exact feeling I have for Australia. In her travels  Jan Cornall seemed to fall in love with all kinds of Indonesian men, Indonesian culture and everything Indonesian. A  fantasy Balinese folk tale called Seven Husbands is certainly my favourite part of the book. In it a Balinese woman uses her desire to rebel against our oppressive Balinese culture and show the men that women have needs just like them, whether in terms of education, participation in ‘Banjar’ community activities, voicing our need to be heard or for gaining equality in sexual desire. It shows that Balinese culture is not paying a lot of attention to basic human needs such as sex, still pretending it doesn’t exist and still upholding the taboo to talk about it. I would recommend it to both Indonesians and westerners to raise and eyebrow and question their innocent sweet smile.

Desak Yoni, author of Renditions of My Soul - The Story of a Balinese Woman

'Jan Cornall's new book of love stories, songs, and poems to Indonesia and its people is like a joyous rollercoaster ride. I was both moved to laughing out loud and close to tears. Jan's witty and fast paced language and word play leaves one dazzled as each sentence is a little rollicking adventure that needs to be savoured and explored. This is a fun book and one of the best I have read in a while - and mind you I am usually not one for poetry. Enjoy the ride!'

Ilka Schroeder.

'A visually stunning array, a concoction of diarist tales even Borges would be proud of….

Jan'’s world takes us along a jungle path, through the gates of Indonesian intimacy, exposing us to tales of inaccessible Javanese familiarity.

She presents the seduced  traveller to a delicious plate of petit four brimming with a delicate scent and wafting up from her collection of love songs…. 

Tony Laurent

Late last year I stumbled upon a wonderful evening at Bar Luna in Jalan Goutama Ubud, as part of the Ubud writers festival. It was Jan Cornall and her Archipelagogo cabaret and I felt like I had been transported back to a time when performances were more personal, what some call 'old school'. To me it means multi skilled, multi talented, funny, smart, relaxed; like being welcomed into the artists home, but with the edge of sharp wit. My friends and I left laughing and singing one of her ditties which had definitely touched the spot for one friend in particular,who felt as if Jan had read her emails to friends back in Australia of the idiosycratic lifestyle of an expat in Bali. We all agreed..."they dont make em like they used to!" Jan is a treasure. 

 Maria Wilson Singer/Texta Artist/Shutterbug

" reading Archipelagogo so blowing the mind, as outsider Jan Cornall the author with beautifully write down her every unique experience exploring the Indonesian islands and aspect of life in it by elaborated through poetry and short story so deep and detail, collaboration the beauty paintings of Jumaadi in each chapter make more lively the story within. Archipelagogo should not be missed, once you get drowned into page to next page till the end....never think twice to read over and over again ! "

Melisa, Surabaya - Indonesia

No comments:

Post a Comment