– by JC Inman
A swarm of ravenous literary types have begun descending on Bali’s cultural Mecca of Ubud ready to devour this year’s crop of luminaries, for this weekend is the 10th Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.
As one of the madding crowd, I will be throwing myself into festival in the same way a burning man may fling himself out the window of a house fire—flailing about incomprehensibly, hoping someone will lend a hand. This is due, in part, to having learned close to no Bhasa, being still unpacked before leaving tomorrow and having no plan as to how to navigate the festival program. But what else are international flights for, right?
In my favour, the festival is bilingual between Bhasa and English and there are several presentations that I consider ‘must see’.
This year the festival’s theme is “Through Darkness To Light/Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang” which was the original theme ten years ago. The festival pays homage to Raden Adjeng Kartini, an early women’s rights activist in Indonesia, and the program has been curated with a focus on women’s rights, stories, and education. Kartini’s collected letters were published posthumously under the title “Out of Dark Comes Light”.
The festival is headlined by Sebastian Faulks and by Lionel Shriver, both bestselling authors, and it is Lionel Shriver’s conversation with Jennifer Byrne which tops my must-see list.
Tossed into the festival’s tropical salad are two Canberran poets: current Australian Poetry Slam champion and a former winner, CJ Bowerbird and Omar Musa—and as an unabashed admirer of them both, I’ll be queuing early to hear them.
Micheal Leunig, iconic Australian cartoonist and philosopher and Indonesian poet and activist Khairani Barokka also feature in my nascent itinerary and I’m interested in the talk on women within creation mythology, Myths Across the Archipelago.
The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is held in various venues, restaurants and resorts across the township. Feel free to travel in my pocket as I tweet and blog my adventure from the events, food stalls, restaurants and rice paddies in paradise.
JC Inman is a poet and co-host of the Canberra Poetry Slam. You can follow him on Twitter @JC_WHO_ART or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/moderndyslexicon