Illya Sumanto

Writer and spoken word artist

Illya Sumanto is an internationally recognised educator and children’s theatre director who specialises in emotional literacy, critical pedagogy and therapeutic art. Illya’s gifts in teaching performance arts have teleported her across borders, from the spiritual settings of Bhaktapur and Bali to the cultural axes of Berlin, Dakar and Salerno. Currently based in Malaysia, she founded Empathy For Youth, a school that advocates the teaching of emotional literacy in young people. 

In 2018 she received an award from Universiti Malaya’s Education Faculty for her role in championing spoken word poetry education in Malaysia. On Malaysia Day the same year, she was commissioned to direct a wayang kulit show with the Malaysian expatriate children living in Berlin. She also started a project called School of Poetry Berlin to help artists learn how to teach spoken word as a practice of activism.

Illya moved to Senegal shortly after to organise Dakar International Slam and Senegal’s first Youth Poetry Slam, open a youth theatre club at Loman Art Gallery, and create a leadership programme for thirteen Senegalese girls, mentees to thirteen prominent female leaders in Dakar. She then made her way to China to work as an educational consultant. 

She recently published the sequel to her graphic novel, Revolusis: Pencetusan (2018), and created How to Survive the Apocalypse for Kids, a YouTube series teaching survival skills to children. Her highlights as a spoken word artist include winning the Ubud Writers Readers Literary Festival Grand Slam, and the solo showcases Liar: Doctor (Jogjakarta, 2016), Doctor (Berlin, 2016) and Conversation about Twerking, Deportation and Communist Education (Jakarta, 2020).

See more about
Illya Sumanto