Sofia Nin (b. 1990)



Written by Nur Diyanah Razali
Dated 16 Apr 2018

Sofia Nin's poems are simple but deep. Her diction and imagery is straightforward; however, a closer reading of her poems reveals Sofia’s views on intricate human relationships and her reflections on humanity. 

In “Tanda Tanya” (“Question Mark”), Sofia strives to question the biased perceptions that someone may have of an individual or group, and challenges them to break away from stereotypes and skewed perceptions by seeking certainty and upholding fairness. Sofia writes about how unanswered questions can create misconceptions, accusations and biased conclusions. Sofia highlights that people can be unnecessarily weighed down by their background and/or personal or cultural baggage, as these facts can cloud other people’s impressions of them. It is more devastating when such misperceptions are used as a basis to judge a person’s character, as such unsettled questions could cause someone to be trapped in a vicious cycle of doubt and suspicion:

Kita berawal dari tanda tanya 
Dan menghukum sepantasnya
Dan menuding secepatnya
Bersandarkan tanda, oh itu semestinya! 
Tanpa perlu tanya, apakah sememangnya? 

[We started from the question mark
And judge right away
And shift the blame right away
With a sign, oh it's all right!
Without question, is it, really?]

Although Sofia explores various themes and issues in her poems based on her observations, she does not depart from her humanistic values. In “Binatang Jalanan” (“Street Beast”), Sofia criticises man’s inability to think critically. She points out that people who do not recognise their ability to analyse and evaluate information will be blinded and trapped in their situation. She likens them to animals who do not utilise their mental capacity well. These men are too easily swayed by their emotions. In the poem, Sofia writes about her desire for people to be aware, sensitive, and utilise their mental capacity to the best of their abilities:

entah kenapa semakin dibebaskan akan suaranya 
seakan kumpulan gagak hitam yang patah sayap nyaring suaranya 
entah kenapa semakin dicantaskan maunya menderu berasak 
seakan segerombolan tebuan yang diambil madunya

[somehow as more freedom is given, the voice 
as if a group of sharped-voiced black crows had broken their wings

somehow as it is trimmed, the desire is burning 
as if honey is taken from a swarm of wasps]

In “Drama Bumi” (“Earth Drama”), Sofia focuses on the issue of conflict and war. She opens her poem by comparing the work of God and humans where God’s work is not restrictive, unlike humans’. Driven by their agendas and vested interests, humans who are full of greed will cause conflicts that would split mankind. In addition, physical destruction and psychological damages are the results of persuasive human analogies, ideologies, propaganda and selfishness. These problems cause Sofia to lament on the state of distress and her hope that people will be more aware about the problem of conflicts:

bumi dipisah keratkan, dicerai beraikan 
lewat analogi manusia 
lewat ideologi manusia 
lewat propaganda manusia 
lewat egoisme manusia 

[the earth is split up, scattered
through human analogy
through human ideology
through human propaganda 
through human selfishness]

From these selected poems, it is clear that Sofia Nin’s style of writing tends to question problematic issues she wishes to address. She also states her hopes and desires for such issues to be dealt with, be it through action, or at the very least, through heightened awareness. Her straightforwardness, in an environment where allusion and indirection may be more accepted in poetry, makes her writing bold and real. As a young writer, Sofia definitely has a great potential to contribute to the Malay literary scene.

Works cited

Sofia Nin. Puisi Berantakan. Malaysia: Terfaktab Media, 2014.