2013 / Canberra / Josh Inman / Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

In Ubud: Fresh Fruit & Muddy Ducks

– by JC Inman

The sun is rising over the rice paddies, noisily welcomed by a large flock of muddy ducks.  I watch them from the pagoda above the private pool attached to my villa; soaking in the inexpensive luxury of Bali. Across the rice paddies another tourist lays in her pagoda. I wave to her; she is also naked.

It’s day 2.

I had spent 21 hours in my commute; the lengthy stopover in Perth allowing time to visit the WA Museum, King’s Park and a gallery of Aboriginal Art. The flight has no in-flight entertainment if you haven’t downloaded and installed the Virgin Airlines App.

I had not.

Post midnight (local time), I check-in in Denpasar. Shower. Sleep. Breakfast. Early morning taxi to Ubud. Check-in.

I queued for tickets at the Festival’s box office, happy to have pre-booked online as even though the Festival really kicks off on Saturday, there were already plenty of sold out events.

I attended the launch of Omar Musa’s second collection of poetry, Parang, at a brand new, spacious sushi bar called Rouge. His book was launched by Clare Bowditch – singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, Rolling Stone’s Woman of the Year; and supported by the Australian Slam Poetry Champion (on his last day in office), CJ Bowerbird.

While there I spoke with Kadi, an artistic director, who was on her way back to the US after five  years of organising the Chinese literary festival, Book Worm. She was able to put me in touch with another festival director.

Being hungry and not yet adjusted to Bali time, I sought out dinner – the local dish of Bebek goreng, crispy skinned duck. I tried to enter the Welcome Ceremony at the Ubud Palace, but it was invite only.

Oppressed by the tropical heat, and a shirt that seemed to shrink as I sweat, I turned towards home only to run into friends for Jogjakarta who were heading towards the Betelnut, where the ‘Women of Poetry’ poetry slam was already underway.

The slam was a tie-in event with a workshop run earlier that day, and so featured poets at all stages of development in their craft. It was a bilingual event. Hosted by the amazing and vivacious Khairani Barokka, a disability rights activist, feminist and poet of no meagre talent, the night was high energy, embracing and empowering. And she even gave me a shout-out.

Afterwards it was well and truly home time. Today promises to have more adventures but for now I have a pool and a basket of fresh fruit. #pettybourgeoisie

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

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