October now marks the month in Bali that is destined to become known around the world for one of South-East Asia's greatest literary events. The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has all the trimmings of a world-class writers festival and is well on its way to becoming the equivalent of Brazil's famous [ Festa Literária Internacional de Parati (FLIP)], right here in our own sumptuous backyard.
This year, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will be back once more with four days of literary excitement in one of the world's most magical settings. There will be inspiring discussions, conversations, readings and lunches overlooking a never-ending view of rice fields and coconut trees, bringing together readers and writers from all corners of the globe.
This year's Festival's theme - Desa-Kala-Patra:Time-Place-Identity will address the ties that bind us to place, ancestry and identity in modern times. Selected from suggestions put forth at the 2005 festival, these are the issues that writers from all over the world repeatedly discussed. Desa-Kala-Patra is part of a basic life principle for the Balinese people.
Putu Wijaya Discusses This Year's Theme
Bali's own internationally acclaimed playwright, Putu Wijaya recently shared his impressions of the theme with the Festival committee:
"'Desa-Kala-Patra' refers to space, time and identity that dissolves into one. It is reflected in Balinese behavior, attitude, reactions, actions, speech and even in their mind, contemplation and feelings. 'Desa – kala – patra' is not a verbal teaching. It is a belief in the domain of the sub-conscious. It functions as a converter for Balinese spirituality, as it is manifested in their behavior, attitude and opinions in their daily life in all situations, be it in official discussions or in less formal conversations in 'warungs,' at the market and even within the invincible territory."
"For the Balinese 'Desa' (space) is essential to indicate origins, links and directions. By tracing their space the Balinese discover their linkage to their homes, origins, 'braya-pisaga-semeton' (society, neighbors and family) and even with their guests. The space is also linked to 'kala' (time). Night and day, morning and afternoon, today and tomorrow can change, take form and make those links to time perfect. Finally 'Patra' (identity) also means situation and condition, instigating that space and time can be harmonized with what is taking place."
"'Desa-kala-patra' is a value and at the same time, a universal approach. That it grows in the soul of the Balinese people, does not make it the sole property and right of the Balinese. Bali is only one of its choices, because this island is a meeting place for different races and ideologies from all over the world. 'Desa-kala-patra' comes to life not because it is discussed, taught, and made a doctrine, but because it is practiced. 'Desa-kala-patra' is like a formless soul that freely resides within the bodies of the Balinese without them being aware."
A Most Diverse and Interesting Collection of Talent
This year, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will bring an even more diverse group of authors to Bali as it celebrates writers from Asia and beyond. In an effort to embrace Bali's Pacific neighbors, the line-up will include poets and authors from Fiji to New Zealand.
Award-winning Sri Lankan writers will share their stories alongside Indonesian and Australian writers in a cross-cultural cocktail of unforgettable exchanges. This year will also showcase the brave new voices of Iran, with a line-up of dynamic women writers who are breaking new grounds by dealing with social issues and cultural identity. And once again, Indian writers will return to lead a series of discussions about love, life, food and literature.
Janet de Neefe, Festival Director and Founder, promises that there will be plenty of new faces contributing their talents to this year's theme. As in the past, days of discussion will drift into nights of dazzling, and often hilarious entertainment and Balinese hospitality. Literary lunches in Ubud's elegant hotels will operate alongside a stimulating series of how-to workshops.
Mark your calendar for October 2006 now!
In the words of Michael Ondaatje, Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient, who attended the 2005 festival:
"It was, and is, and hopefully will always be a wonderfully intimate festival. I have made great friends of writers and readers, heard exciting talks, and eaten meals I did not know existed. Thank you."
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