Salleh Ben Joned

Renowned for his poetry and prose, the charismatic Salleh Ben Joned is remembered as one of Malaysia’s most exciting modernist writers. Salleh, renowned both for his bilingual poetry and essays, was also regarded as a non-conformist in the arts, culture and literary circles. He was born in Melaka on July 4, 1941, enjoying a small-town childhood and later studying at Malacca High School. In 1963, the young Salleh was awarded a Colombo Plan scholarship to study English literature in Australia. He ended up spending 10 years in Australia, first in Adelaide and later in Tasmania. At the University of Tasmania, Salleh became a student of the late James McAuley, one of Australia’s major poets.

After completing his studies in Australia, Salleh returned to Kuala Lumpur in 1973 and joined the English Department of Universiti Malaya which he quit in 1983 to become a freelance writer. As a published poet, Salleh had to wait until his mid-40s to see his work available widely. His first collection of poetry, both in Bahasa Malaysia and English, Sajak-Sajak Salleh/Poems Sacred And Profane was published in 1987.

He died aged 79 from heart failure on Thursday, 29 October 2020.