Denny JA - Nobel Indonesia - Sastrawan Intelektual - Sastrawan Indonesia

profile biography dennyja


– A Concise Biography

“Poetry needs to return to the midst of the public arena”
(Denny JA)

On the basis of a review of more than a hundred works, comprising literature, non-fiction books, films, animated videos, and speeches, as well as his involvement in progressive social movements, Denny JA stands out as the voice of human rights in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia.

Denny JA is also the voice of moderate Muslims, who are now becoming more active. Through hundreds of his works, fiction and non-fiction, speeches, as well as his social involvement, he affirms the importance of an inclusive Islam.

From Denny’s perspective, Islamic civilization reached its pinnacle or Golden Age in the 8-12 centuries CE, precisely when Islam benefited from a synergistic relationship with other great civilizations. The Golden Age of Islam coincided with and was facilitated by the translation into Arabic and Persian of classical Greek philosophical texts, as well as important books from China and India.

This was reflected in the views of modern literary figures who gathered recently at a festschrift that commemorated Denny JA’s 40 years of authorship. In 2021, several books expressing the perspective of prominent figures will be published, as well as critical journals, that celebrate Denny JA’s four decades of work as a published author.

Since the publication in 2012 of his seminal literary work, In the Name of Love, Denny JA has spoken out against intolerance and discrimination. The five long essay poems in this anthology employ historically authentic fictional stories to articulate five examples of social discrimination that have actually occurred in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

Denny expressed not only the intricacies of intolerance with respect to religion, race, and gender, but he also bravely delved into discrimination against LGBT.

The five long works in Denny JA’s first essay poem collection, In the Name of Love, have been adapted as short films by Indonesian cinematographer Hanung Brahmantyo.  These five films are often used by Indonesian cultural institutions as an introduction to class discussions that focus on diversity.

Denny JA did not hesitate to raise issues that are still very sensitive in his country, most specifically in an essay poem that describes the love story of two homosexual men.  The Muslim-majority population of Indonesia is generally opposed to any public expression of LGBT relationships.

Denny wrote another essay poem, Waiting for Sodom and Gomorrah in Amsterdam, regarding a young lesbian, named Rosa.  This essay poem, which can be viewed on Youtube as an animated video, tells the story of a devout Muslim family, whose beloved daughter grows up to be a lesbian.

The father is a religious leader.  Full of anger, the father expels his daughter from the family.  Rosa ultimately leaves Indonesia and seeks refuge in the hospitable environment of Amsterdam, ironically recapitulating the path of her exiled uncle, who was forced to leave Indonesia in 1965 due to his affiliation with Lekra, the cultural organization of Indonesia’s outlawed communist party.

Rosa’s mother is very worried.  She is aware that Amsterdam is full of LGBT people.  Based on her religious beliefs, she believes that Amsterdam will be destroyed by God in a manner similar to the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The mother asks her daughter to return to Indonesia fearing that Amsterdam will be obliterated.  Rosa simply replies that the Netherlands is actually one of the happiest countries in the world, supported by evidence from the annual World Happiness Index.  Thus, she dismisses and tries to allay her mother’s concerns that Amsterdam will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.

In addition, Denny JA has also proven adept in creating a series of 30 videos, each concerning the teachings of an important Sufi figure or Islamic thinker.  These videos were broadcast on his Youtube channel for 30 consecutive days during the Ramadan fasting month.

Denny JA’s inspirational tales of prominent Sufis and Islamic thinkers impart an strong impression of Muslims who are spiritual, yet moderate and inclusive.

What is unique and especially interesting is that Denny JA’s literary works are written in the form of essay poems.  This is a new genre of poetry, which Denny JA himself created.

Essay poetry combines fictional characters with historically authentic plots.  Thus, each essay poem is a dramatized, fictional story with realistic elements. Although these literary works employ poetic devices, the poems are generally as long as a novel or short story .

Essay poetry is also distinctive due to the presence of footnotes.  These footnotes provide news sources that contextualize and authenticate the historical aspects of the background story in each essay poem.

The popularity of the essay poetry genre that Denny JA originated has become widespread.  More than 150 books of essay poetry have been published.

More than 200 writers throughout Indonesia’s 34 provinces have composed essay poems that express both the wisdom of local folklore as well as lingering aspects of social discrimination that still persist in their particular province.  Due to cultural activities, sponsored by ASEAN, essay poetry has recently become popular in Southeast Asian societies outside Indonesia.

In 2020, the term essay poetry was officially recognized as a new entry in the Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, the official dictionary of the Indonesian language.  In celebrating this occasion, Denny JA exclaimed that “nothing made him feel more proud of himself as a writer than contributing to the birth of a new word that was officially adopted by the dictionary”.

Denny JA’s appeal to extend human rights is not only evident in his literary works but also in many of his nonfiction books, in which he encourages Indonesia to become a model for other Muslim countries to adopt reforms that promote freedom and democracy.

Denny has written several books that outline his valuable perspectives in this regard; among these are The Path to Democracy & Freedom for the Muslim World (2019) and a more theoretical text on the same theme that is replete with pertinent data: The Shifting of Religious Understanding from Absolute Truth to Universally Shared Cultural Wealth (2020).

Beyond his written contributions, Denny JA continues to finance a special foundation that he established: the Indonesia Without Discrimination Movement.

In addition to his assertive voice for advocating human rights in the largest Muslim country, Denny JA is also appreciated as a prolific writer.

During his 40 years of work as a published author (1981-2021), he has written 102 books, made 13 films and 82 animated videos, and published more than 100 humanistic opinion videos on Youtube.

Among Southeast Asian authors, Denny JA leads among writers whose works have been translated into English.  By 2021, 40 of his books had been translated into English.  Furthermore, each of his 13 films, 82 animated videos, and more than 60 opinion videos has been given English subtitles.

Denny JA is not only prodigious in his writing skills; he is also known as a strong orator.  He is a strong leader in civil society.  And Denny JA is also a successful entrepreneur who finances his own social and philanthropic activities.

Denny Januar Ali, known as Denny JA, was born on January 4, 1963 in Palembang (South Sumatra), Indonesia.

Denny JA was named by TIME Magazine in 2015 as one of the 30 most influential people on the Internet alongside other online media luminaries, such as US President Barack Obama, Argentine President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and renowned celebrities, such as Shakira, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber.

This honor recognized Denny’s outstanding role in mobilizing social media to influence and shape public opinion and surveys leading up to the 2014 Indonesian presidential election.[2].

In 2014, he was awarded by Twitter for the World’s No. 2 Golden Tweet, which was also No. 1 in Indonesia for that year.[3]

In the same year, Denny JA was selected by a team of eight prominent poets, critics, and academicians for inclusion in a special publication by the prestigious H B Jassin Foundation as one of the 33 most influential literary figures in modern Indonesian history.[4]

Denny also leads in political education for citizens in 34 provinces, specifically by advocating the tolerant values of Pancasila that President Soekarno had preached.  The day before Indonesia’s Independence Day, on August 16, 2018, Denny JA and his public survey agency, the Indonesian Survey Circle, held a countrywide political education event; in doing so, Denny JA broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest political education event ever held.[5]

In recognition of his contributions to the literary world, Denny JA received the 2020 ASEAN Humanitarian and Diplomacy Literature award from the Malaysian Language and Literature Agency [6] and the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indonesian Writers Association (Satupena) for his dedication to and innovation in literature during the past 40 years. [7]

Denny JA is also an avid reader who has demonstrated leadership capabilities since childhood.  Since his high school days, Denny JA has been fond of Michael H. Hart’s book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History (1978).  The steadfast pioneering spirit of the historical figures in this book inspired Denny to pursue excellence and create new culturally and socially valuable institutions in Indonesia’s conservative society.

Denny JA started his academic career as Executive Director of Jayabaya University, Jakarta (2000-2003).

He was also trusted as a host for political programs on Metro TV [8] and Radio Delta FM during the pivotal Reformation Era (2002-2004).[9]  In addition, he served as a long-term columnist at nine national newspapers (1986-2005).[10]

Denny JA founded the Indonesian Public Opinion Survey Institute (2003), the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI, 2005), the Public Opinion Research Association (AROPI, 2007), and the Association of Indonesian Political Consultants (AKPI, 2009).[11]

Through these four organizations, Denny JA created a new tradition of Indonesian political consultancy and public opinion surveys.[12][13]

Denny JA: Education

  1. Srata Satu Universitas Indonesia, Legal Studies, 1989
  2. Master of Public Administration (MPA), University of Pittsburgh, United States, 1994
  3. PhD in Comparative Politics and Business, Ohio University, United States, 2001

Professional positions that Denny JA has undertaken during his professional career:

  1. Executive Director, Jayabaya University, Jakarta (2000-2003).
  2. Talk Show Host, Political TV talk show on Metro TV and a Political Radio talk show on Delta FM (2002-2004).
  3. Newspaper Columnist, Nine national Indonesian newspapers (1986-2005).
  4. Executive Director, Lingkaran Survei Indonesia (LSI) (2005 – Present).
  5. General Chairman, AROPI (Asosiasi Riset Opini Publik Indonesia), 2007 – 2010 and 2010- 2013.
  6. General Chairman, AKPI (Asosiasi Konsultan Politik Indonesia) (2009 – Present)
  7. Founder, The Denny JA Foundation for Indonesia Without Discrimination Movement. [14]
  8. General Chairman, Association of Indonesian Writers (Satupena), 2021-2026.[15]
  9. Founder and Chairman, Association of Indonesian Political Consultants, 2009 – Present
  10. Founder and Chairman, Association of Public Opinion Research Agencies (AROPI), 2008-2018.[16]

Numerous honors and awards that Denny JA has received:

Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 from the Association of Indonesian Writers (Satupena) for his dedication to and innovation in the literary world during the past 40 years. [17]

* 2020 ASEAN Humanitarian and Diplomacy Literature Award from the Malaysian Language and Literature Agency, Sabah, Malaysia. [18]

* Guinness Book of World Records, 2018: the world’s largest political education event. [19]

* In July, 2015 Denny JA’s essay poem, Fang Yin’s Handkerchief (English/German editions), became the Number 1 Bestseller in the Amazon Kindle poetry department.

* In 2015, Denny JA was named by TIME Magazine in 2015 as one of The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet alongside other online media luminaries, such as US President Barack Obama, Argentine President Christina Fernández de Kirchner, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and celebrities, such as Shakira, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. [20]

* Award for Golden Tweet #2 (2014) from Twitter [21][22]

* Award for prestigious contributions and pioneering work in the field of Indonesian social sciences from Universitas Kristen Indonesia (UKI) 2011[23]

* Newsmaker of The Election Award 2009 Penghargaan dari Persatuan Wartawan Indonesia: PWI Jaya, 2009[24]

* Civil Society Award 2009  from Forum Keadilan Magazine: Forum Keadilan, 2009[25][26]

* Lifetime Achievement Award 2008 from Biographi Politik Magazine, 2008 [27]

* Award from Masyarakat Ilmu Pemerintahaan Indonesia: MIPI, 2007[28]

* PKS Award: An Award from Partai Keadilan Sejahtera for Denny JA’s Contributions to a New Tradition for National Politics through Public Opinion Polling: PKS, 2007 [29]

* MO Award: An Award form Mens Obsession (MO Magazine) for Denny’s Contributions to a New Tradition for National Politics through Public Opinion Polling, 2006 [30]

* Political Entrepreneur: An Award from Rakyat Merdeka for Denny’s Contributions to a New Tradition for National Politics through Massive Public Research throughout Indonesian Provincial Districts, which resulted in Surveys and Political Consultancies becoming a Central Element in Provincial and District Elections (Pilkada) from Aceh to Papua, 2006

* 25 Indonesian Records, MURI (Indonesian World Records Museum) in academic fields, public opinion, political consultancy, social media, and literature. [31]

* Democracy Award from Rakyat Merdeka Online in 2013, based on Denny JA’s activities in developing Indonesian democracy. [32]

* Selected as one of the 33 Most Influential Figures in Indonesian Literature (during the previous 115 years) by Tim 8 (2014) [33]

* Recognition from MURI (Indonesian World Records Museum) as the First Political Consultant to Win Three Consecutive Indonesian Presidential Election Campaigns (for successful presidential candidates Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Joko Widodo).


  1. 1 ^ “Mengenal LSI Denny JA, Lembaga Hitung Cepat yang Catat Rekor MURI”. kumparan. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  2. ^ “These Are The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet”. Time. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  3. ^ “Tech in Asia – Connecting Asia’s startup ecosystem”. (dalam bahasa Inggris). Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  4. ^ “33 Tokoh Sastra Paling Berpengaruh di Indonesia”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  5. ^ “Largest politics lesson”. Guinness World Records. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  6. ^ “Sekretariat Nasional ASEAN – Indonesia”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  7. ^ “Denny JA Raih Lifetime Achievement Award dari Satupena”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  8. ^ Kumpulan Talkshow Denny J.A di Metro TV “Parliament Watch Penerbit: Pusataka Sinar Harapan, 2006” ISBN 979-416-883-1

  9. ^ Kumpulan Talkshow Denny JA di Delta FM “Jejak Pemilu” Penerbit LKIS 2006

  10. ^ Kumpulan Kolom Denny JA di Rakyat Merdeka & Sindo “Para Politisi dan Lagunya” Penerbit LKIS, ISBN: 979-25-5233-2

  11. ^ [1]

  12. ^ Majalah Tempo Edisi 30 Juli-5 Agustus 2012

  13. ^ Buku Fransiskus Surdiasis, Ulin Ni’am Yusron, Rusdi Mathari, “Enam Ikon Pembawa Tradisi Baru Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, hlm 91-126

  14. ^ [2] beritasatu

  15. ^ Nusantara, Solusi Sistem. “Denny JA Sah Jabat Ketum Komunitas Satupena | Milenial”. Accessed: 2021-08-26.

  16. ^ “Denny JA Pimpin Asosiasi Riset Opini Publik Se-Indonesia”. detiknews. Accessed: 2021-08-26.

  17. ^ “Denny JA Raih Lifetime Achievement Award dari Satupena”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  18. ^ “Sekretariat Nasional ASEAN – Indonesia”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  19. ^ “Largest politics lesson”. Guinness World Records. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

  20. ^

  21. ^ [3] Rakyat Merdeka

  22. ^ [4] Vivanews

  23. ^ [5] antaranews

  24. ^ [6]

  25. ^ [7] Rakyat Merdeka

  26. ^ [8] antaranews

  27. ^ Biographi Politik Magazine, 2008

  28. ^ [9] Pelita

  29. ^ [10] PKS Award, 2007

  30. ^ Mens Obsession Magazine, 2006

  31. ^ [11] Rekor Muri

  32. ^ [12] Rakyat Merdeka Award

  33. ^ “33 Tokoh Sastra Paling Berpengaruh di Indonesia”. Accessed: 2021-08-25.

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