Arrested as a leftist-activist in 1966, Putu Oka Sukanta was imprisoned until 1976. In The Starling, originally published in 1986 as Tembang Jalak Bali (Song of the Starling), he speaks of the terrible degradation of humanity and the inner strength and solidarity of comradeship which emerge in the extreme conditions of imprisonment. The poems go on to explore the painful steps in the reconstruction of life and social meaning after the prison gates have opened. Putu once referred to himself as a starling (jalak Bali), a bird endemic to Bali. “A starling,” he said, “is an annoying, ugly bird that no-one likes and is always causing trouble. But it’s a great survivor.