The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) will once again welcome over 200 speakers from 19 countries consisting of writers, humanists, activists, journalists, literary activists, and other important figures face-to-face on 27-30th October 2022 in Ubud, Bali.
As the largest annual literary and arts event in Southeast Asia, this year’s theme portrays Memeyu Hayuning Bawana, an ancient Javanese philosophy which means endeavour to care for, protect, and beautify all aspects of the virtues of the universe. Roughly, UWRF conveys through the statement: “Uniting Humanity”.
“We fully organise the festival offline, and it is hoped that it will be a warm meeting space; a moment of cross-examination of ideas and works, as well as an opportunity to recognise different ideas. Join this year’s festival, and discover the essence and deep ideas of our lives,” said Founder and Director of UWRF, Janet DeNeefe at a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday 6th October 2022.
Festival goers will catch themselves in eye-opening discussions. Indonesian literacy legend Putu Oka Sukanta shared a glimpse of what’s to come during his upcoming speaking time at UWRF. He started by saying that the goal of this life is happiness. “The occurrence of wars, natural destruction, mutual accusations, annoyance and so much more in the world is all because we don’t want to be a solution. We are not able to provide a way out to build the happiness of others,” he continued.
Understanding his writing journey, this year UWRF gave the honourary Lifetime Achievement Award for his struggles and hard work bestowed from a young man in Bali to his current days in Jakarta. The award was presented by Janet DeNeefe.
“For me, writing is fighting against dehumanisation, fighting to be human again,” said Sukanta in his acceptance speech. “Thanks to UWRF for awarding me. This award strengthens my determination to write and work for those excluded, and those marginalised by power.”
Another speaker to look forward to at the festival is Felix K. Nesi, hailing from East Nusa Tenggara. Nesi had just completed his residency program at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. He is scheduled to fill three sessions later, one of which is the “Voices from the East” program which discusses regional inequality in access to literature in Indonesia.
“My childhood in the 1990s was a difficult time to find books. I think now book lovers have it at ease by receiving assistance from various programs and campaigns. The UWRF too has helped since the 2000s by inviting writers from the east,” he reflected. “I think this inequality should be a concern for all of us going forward.”
Sharing the stage with those esteemed writers is the winner of Puteri Indonesia 2022 and the host, Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana. She has set her mind on a different approach upon entering the pageant and wishes to continue embarking on her journey towards Miss Universe 2022 with a fresh, strong outlook that proves literature, literacy, and art can coexist and become sharp weapons when utilised positively.
“This year marks the 19th anniversary of the UWRF. I have been following this festival since its inception, and this experience had a huge impact on me. I want to provide equal opportunities for Indonesian children. I hope more young people find out about UWRF,” she added.
Amongst many supporters of this year’s festival are the Directorate General of Culture; the Education, Culture, Research and Technology; and the Education Ministry Fund Management Institute through the 2022 Cultural Endowment Fund Management Utilisation Program. More than 60 discussion panels, 11 workshops, 30 book launches, eight special events, 10 film screenings, performing arts, musical and literary performances, as well as up to dozens of children’s and youth programs, will be presented amidst the four-day festival.
Restu Gunawan as Director of Cultural Development and Utilisation said, “One of the ways of this is the ‘Endowment of Culture Fund’ to support activities by spreading culture and becoming a meeting place for artists. UWRF is one of the activities that the Ministry has long wanted to support”.
UWRF provides the widest opportunity to network along with literary experiences in other cities in Indonesia, such as the Satellite Program in Solo, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya with American writers supported by the American Embassy in Jakarta. For the first time, UWRF supports the Rasasastra Art Festival on 8th October-13th November 2022 at Semesta Gallery, Jakarta. Moreover, UWRF collaborates with WritingWA to present UWRF Perth on 21st-23rd October.