Ubud Writers Festival back live to lift BaliMuhammad Cohen

Ubud Writers Festival back live to lift BaliMuhammad Cohen

Born in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival return live to foster cultural exchange and boost recovery of tourism on the Indonesian island after more than two years of Covid crimped international travel.

With more than 200 speakers from 19 countries, this 19th edition of the festival runs October 27-30 in Bali. This year’s theme is the Javanese concept Memayu Hayuning Bawana, Uniting Humanity.

“I am proud to announce that the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival returns with an exciting on-the-ground program,” festival founder and director Janet DeNeefe announced at a press conference.

“We will explore the power of storytelling and the role of the written word to uphold humanity’s values and freedoms. With the world becoming more fractured, our lives more disturbed, we will ask: how can we unite the many strands of different cultures and perspectives to create, deeper understanding, mutual respect, and equality?”

Balinese novelist and poet Putu Oka Sukanto, whose work examines Indonesia’s authoritarian past, has received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “This award strengthens my determination to write and work for those that are left out and those that are marginalized by power,” Sukanto said in thanking the festival for the award.

Puteri Indonesia (Miss Universe Indonesia) 2022 Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana will bring her advocacy for literacy to the program. Daughter of the festival founder, Suardana said, “I’ve been with the festival since the beginning, and it has had a huge impact on me. I want to provide equal opportunities for Indonesian children.”

The festival is an annual highlight of the Bali calendar. As a fan and multiyear participant, I congratulate DeNeefe and her team for weathering Covid, and hope the festival continues to thrive as a forum for ideas and dialogue.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is Asia editor at large at ICE365, a contributor to Forbes, columnist for Asia Times and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about TV news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook, Twitter @MuhammadCohen and LinkedIn.

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