ASEAN Literary Festival 2014: "Anthems for the Common People"

21 Mar 2014 - 23 Mar 2014

Bringing together the finest writers from all over Southeast Asia, the first ever ASEAN Literary Festival 2014 will be held at Taman Ismail Marzuki Art Center, Jakarta from 21st to 23rd March 2014.
Organized by Muara Foundation with full supports from the Ministry of Foreign Affair and Hivos (Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking), the event is designed  as a platform for writers, artists and the general public in the region to get to know and understand one another in greater depth. In doing so, it is expected that a sense of common identity can be established which will also support the formation of the ASEN Community 2015 program.
In its inaugural edition, the ASEAN Literary Festival carries the theme "Anthems for the Common People" which is inspired by poem “Song of the Grassroots” written by Indonesian influential poet and human rights activist, Wiji Thukul. Through the theme, the ASEAN Literary Festival is dedicating itself to be the voice of the common people. The festival also sees itself as a folk’s festival where literature and art are brought closer to general public and celebrated by all.
Over 40 prominent writers, scholars and artists from ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapura, Thailand, Filipina, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Vietnam, Timor Leste, and also non-ASEAN countries such as China, South Korea, Netherland, United Kingdom, and Australia, have already confirmed their participations in the festival. More than 600 people from all across Indonesia and the region will also join the festivity of the three-day event.
The festival will feature discussions on various interesting topics.  The discussion on “Contemporary ASEAN Literature” will be brought by  Manneke Budiman (Indonesia), Isa Kamari (Singapura) and Andy Fuller (Australia), while “Democracy, Human Rights and Literature" will be presented by Todung Mulya Lubis (Indonesia), Prabhassorn Sevikul (Thailand), and Ning Ken (China).     
Highlighting the literature of Indonesia and Philippines during the era of Soeharto and Marcos, "Literary Works under Totalitarian Regime" will be addressed by Pete Lacaba (Philippines) dan Wijaya Herlambang (Indonesia). Melanie Budianta (Indonesia) and Jamil Maidan (Philippines) will lead the discussion on "Southeast Asia Literature and Colonialism".
Other intriguing topics of the discussions are "Ethnicity, Religion and Literature", "Where Does Literary Critics Go", "Women and Literature", and "The Role of Literary Translation". 
Aside from the series of discussions, there will also be workshops, art performances, poetry reading, book signing, book exhibition, children’s literature, writer’s corners, publisher’s corners, community corner, and many more.
In a world that puts a premium to digital hype, noise and materialism, it’s easy to dismiss the fundamental role of writers and their work. After all, it seems that literature is the last thing that most people need in the struggle to survive in this part of the world. However, it is the words written by poets, fictionists, dramatists and other creative writers that actually provide the people with common senses, conscience and wisdom that offer guidance through upheavals and uncertainties. 
With this spirit, the ASEAN Literary Festival is intended to create more than just a mere event, as the Director of the Festival Abdul Khalik stated in his remarks on the official website: “We are here to build a tradition that will outlast all of us and that we hope will endure over the centuries ahead so that it will never cease to provide opportunities for writers to develop and enjoy the appreciation that is their due”.
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