Ubud Writers Readers Festival
Its festive season in Bali. Over the last two weeks Bali floated with a kind of sanctified space with the day of Galungan marking the beginning of the festivities and Kuningan heralding the end. Galungan is held every 210 days and represents the victory of Dharma (good) over Adharma (evil). When the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival closes on October 11 this year, Galungan will commence three days later.
During Galungan, it is said that the deified ancestors return to the shrines in the family temples. To commemorate this special time, decorated bamboo penjors or poles are placed at the entrance of each compound. The penjor is a symbol of Bali’s revered volcano and home of the deities, Mt. Gunung Agung. The placing of the penjor in front of every home brings the sacred mountain to the villages. The penjor is also said to represent the tail of the dragon, a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
One of the greatest joys at this time is to ride through the streets of Bali under the shade of these arched penjors that are artfully adorned with bundles of rice, tufts of colourful foliage and woven coconut leaves. It is hard not to feel a sense of exhilaration driving under these magnificent eco-friendly works of art. And every family has their own particular style.
The penjor also symbolizes the ‘togetherness’ of this year’s festival theme, Suka-Duka: Compassion and Solidarity. These glorious tributes to God carry with them a spirit of unfailing devotion and sums up the sheer mastery of Balinese creativity.
In the meantime, our 2009 list of writers is near completion. Thus far, our line-up represents a diverse and dynamic gathering of minds from near and far who will delve heartily into this year’s theme.
Don’t miss Nobel laureates J.M. Coetzee and Wole Soyinka, Kate Grenville, Abdourahman Waberi, Mohammed Hanif, Vikas Swarup [author of Q&A – Slumdog Millionare], Fatima Bhutto and Hari Kunzru.
The Indonesian Program
The Festival’s Indonesian Program shifts its pace into a higher gear this month, commencing the pre-curatorial works on the submitted works and organizing the launching of the Festival’s official anthology “Reasons for Harmony” at seven cities across four major islands in the archipelago.
As many as 40 Indonesian emerging writers have submitted their works and bios to the festival committee, a significant increase in the 27 writers in 2008. They hail from different parts of this vast country and present works from distinctive genres of literature.
A pre-curatorial team chaired by Ahmad Tohari is currently reading all the works and bios before drafting and submitting a list of recommended writers to the Curatorial Board. Final selection will be made by the Curatorial Board.
In the meantime, the Festival’s Community Development Manager, Kadek Purnami, and Indonesian Program Coordinator, I Wayan Juniartha, travelled to Aceh to attend the first launching of the 2008 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) bilingual poem and prose anthology “Reason for Harmony”.
The launch took place on February 28 at the Syiah Kuala University and was organized by the local literary and reading community Dokarim.
In Ubud, the launch on 13 March at the TonyRaka Gallery was accompanied by an exhibition called Man to Man, curated by Kadek Krishna Adidharma, where four artists responded to the 2008 Festival theme ‘Tri Hita Karana’.
Similar events are taking place during the next couple of months in Payakumbuh (West Sumatra), Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Makassar (South Sulawesi) and Papua. All events involve the active participation of the local literary communities and former participants of the Festival, reflecting the Festival’s effort to strengthen the country’s literary networks.
The 101-page anthology features the works and translated works of 14 Indonesian writers, who attended the 2008 festival. Funded by HiVOS, the publication of the joint anthology is part of the strategy to actively introduce and promote the works of Indonesian authors to the global stage.
HiVOS and the 2009 UWRF will publish two anthologies this year, one is the Festival anthology and the other is an anthology of selected works of Indonesian authors from the last five Festivals. Both will be available at the 2009 Festival.
For those of you in the neighborhood, next month will see the launch of our annual Quiz Night. Come for a great night of prizes, raffles, and surprise guests, and of course the honour of winning the inaugural UWRF LITERARY QUIZ NIGHT award! 18 April, book a table of up to 6 at email@example.com. More details under ‘news’ on our website soon.
The Festival Team
Things are busy around the office. Since we last wrote, we have acquired 3 new staff members. Nanda Arya Wijaya has joined us from Jakarta to be our new Office Manager. Nanda will be responsible for the overall management of the Festival office and contract staff for this year’s festival.
Pande Putu Setiawan is our new Project Assistant. Pande has volunteered for the Festival in the past, and is also a published writer [look out for him at this year’s Festival]. He is assisting with sponsorship and the community program. Finally we have a new trainee Ida Bagus Putra Wira Adnyana, who is helping us with administrative jobs and learning some new skills before he begins university.