Monday, October 10, 2011

Literary fest a success

Visiting Bali, for me, is good. Just good. No more, or less. I love the beaches, the sands, its ethnic music and, ahem, its "terrific" social life. I often heard people talk about other renowned tourist area/cities in Bali that are great to visit like Kuta, Legian, Jimbaran, Denpasar, Ubud, Nusa Dua and more.

Particularly Ubud, I had never been there for my whole life. I heard it was one of nice place for people finding peacefulness and tranquility. Known for culture and arts area, I used to think foreigners and visitors might find Ubud captivating; but not me.

Well, at least until last week when I landed my foot there, volunteering for one of world's biggest literature festivals. I could not decline the temptation of Ubud atmosphere...

Anyway, why did I decide to participate and manage the fest? My first answer would be: Hey, it's "writers" and "readers" thingy. I love reading good books. I end up writing something (don't care whether they're a good one or not for people) if my mood swings, my brain twists and an inspiration knocks. 

Another reason would be: I want to try living in Ubud. But please, I wasn't trying to live the Elizabeth Gilbert's way (of the very famous "Eat Pray Love"). I was just so curious of Ubud.

So last week, I involved in the 8th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) 2011 which was held in Ubud, Bali, on Oct. 5-9. Sponsored by PT ANZ Panin Bank, this year's theme was "Nandurin Karang Awak: Cultivate The Land Within". 

The annual festival not only took place all way around Ubud, but also put in Denpasar as some of its agenda were to conduct workshop and seminar for students and youth at some high schools and universities in Bali.

Beforehand, I registered to be a volunteer in two days before the committee announced their decision for volunteers. As they accepted me and I officially got in, I was chosen to participate and manage the Book launch program. 

Emails kept coming to my inbox, informing everything crucial for us to acknowledge. Facebook closed-group page was created and everyone in charge for the UWRF 2011 discussed everything like accommodation, hotel sharing and more for the upcoming fest.

Lucky me, I had two friends from Facebook (haa!) -- who apparently were very nice, sweet, kind and crazy ladies -- to live together in Ubud and share room with. Mba Jainar Berliana, Bandung-based novelist, radio announcer; and Riska Wandira, half Balinese-Javanese, an ex fashion reporter, were seriously awesome. They had their own uniqueness and characteristics that made me (the people observer..teehee) felt inspired of life.

Back to the UWRF 2011, there were 130 invited speakers from 27 countries, participating in 168 events that were held at 57 venues. This festival conducted not only to facilitate and gather global writers brainstorming and digging ideas and experiences regarding multicultural life. 

The event also planned writing workshops, fiction/non-fiction, travel writing, publishing and marketing books, even designing our own cover books, and more and more for those literary enthusiasts. Priceless, huh?

This year's event featured Indonesian writers/authors, journalists and/or artists like Andrea Hirata, Putu Widjaja, Djenar Maesa Ayu, Ahmad Fuadi; along with international's Nury Vittachi, John O'Sullivan, Alex Miller, Ann Lee, Peta Mathias and more. There were Grand Opening; which was hell crowded; music and dancing to folks music night, cultural workshops, exhibitions, book launches, art programs and other thrilling programs to follow. 

I witnessed probably more than 80 percent participants (including volunteers, committee, guests and attendees) are foreigners. Here I was not surprised, though. It's pretty much understandable if less Indonesians (not generally) are not really into literature; even only reading or writing. But above all, this Harper's Bazaar recognition festival kicked everyone off. 

I didn't manage to take photographs as often as some other occasions, as I needed to move back and forth. Besides, the committee stated no official UWRF photographers could take shoots in the programs; not the whole event. 

Lastly, this world-class literature festival needs to improve every year. In my opinion, this festival is excellent in everything; be it the new people, learn to go over my self-boundary and put out on "reality life" of my skill of service (since I worked in the Book Launch program). As Closing UWRF 2011 Party was at Antonio Blanco Museum, it is supposedly a great mark to start the next year's. 

Literature geeks are going to party hard, again, soon!

Xoxo - AW

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