UWRF22 gets underway to show its diverse and intercultural side

Posted: 26 October 2022
From left to right: Dr. Drs I Ketut Suardana,M.Fil.H, Aprila Wayar, Rara Sekar, Tim Baker, Osman Yousefzada and Janet DeNeefe

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) will make its 19th return this Thursday, 27 October for a four-day long weekend. UWRF unites the best of local and international literary talent for its 2022 programme while highlighting its role as a powerhouse for diverse debate and dynamic intercultural exchange.

Southeast Asia’s largest literary festival will play host to more than 200 live events. Renowned panellists include Carla Power, Tim Baker, Audrey Magee, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Osman Yousefzada. UWRF22 also welcomes a distinguished lineup of Indonesian writers and artists, including writer and journalist Putu Oka Sukanta, film director Kamila Andini, novelist Ahmad Fuadi and musician Rara Sekar.

Dr. Drs I Ketut Suardana,M.Fil.H, Chairman of Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, said, “It has been more than three years since I have opened this festival under anything resembling favourable circumstances. I’m really happy that the writer and reader community can finally unite again here in Ubud and revel in books and stories and ideas under the theme Uniting Humanity, which reflects so much of the Festival’s spirit. It’s a highly diverse event that connects people.”

Dr. Drs I Ketut Suardana,M.Fil.H

The Festival will offer a series of panel discussions that reflect this year’s theme and elevate the voices of those affected by acts of persecution, conflict and human rights violations. Highlights include The War in Ukraine, a discussion featuring Ukrainian writers Oksana Maksymchwk and Maz Rosochinsky, about the seismic ripple effect of the war on our post-covid world, and Uniting Humanity: Poetry Of Peace, a powerful evening of spoken word, storytelling and wisdom in a prayer for peace.

Janet DeNeefe, the Festival’s Director and Founder said, “We couldn’t ignore the invasion of Ukraine because of its immense global repercussions. The idea of Poetry for Peace, bringing writers and artists together, reflects the way the Festival has always operated”, adding, “we like to surpass expectations with our increasingly diverse programs that aim to inform and please our audiences.”

As part of the 19th edition, the Festival will also present a range of events that explore many aspects of varying cultures and perspectives to create deeper understanding and mutual respect. This includes an in-person discussion with British activist and interdisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada, who will share from his first book about trauma he incurred from migration, racism and poverty in Britain over the last few decades. “Themes of uniting humanity through a dialogue of our dualities and belonging are important to my work and writing and to be able to participate in this Festival with other thinkers and writers is a joy”, said Osman.

From left to right: Tim Baker, Osman Yousefzada and Janet DeNeefe

Papuan journalist and novelist, Aprila Wayar will also be appearing as part of this year’s main program line-up to discuss the creative tactics she developed to improve literacy in Eastern Indonesian and to increase faith in the concept of literature as a vehicle for change throughout the homeland. “I hope this year’s Festival will mark the revival of literature and the world of literacy in Indonesia, as well as a more powerful post-Covid world, Wayar said.

The Festival’s program will continue with a discussion with Australian author Tim Baker on how writing can be deeply cathartic and help us to make sense of our lives, our relationships and ourselves in the face of trauma. About his new book Patting the Shark, in which he perilously journeys back from a stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis, he says: “Bali and Ubud in particular feels like the perfect place to be talking about writing as catharsis because the experience of being here is so deeply healing. One of the reasons I was so excited to come to Ubud to discuss my book is that the Balinese understand holistic health, mind, body and spirit, so I feel I am in a very supportive environment to talk about these often delicate and sensitive issues.”

Rara Sekar and Tim Baker

Events outside the main program also promise ample inspiration. There will be poetry sessions, literary lunches, long table dinners, walking tours through rice fields and villages, book launches, cocktail parties and music performances. In the permaculture garden of Mana Earthly Paradise, a special event with rising Indonesian musician, Rara Sekar, will be a rare opportunity to watch her latest solo music project performance in the middle of the garden. “I always strive to maintain a positive relationship with myself, society and nature while maintaining a perceptive and reflective awareness wherever I work”, Rara said.

Janet DeNeefe adds, “As Southeast Asia’s biggest literary Festival, our national and international reputation allows us to bring well-known names to Bali and our role provides the necessary platform for up-and-coming literary talent to thrive. UWRF is a festival full of character and depth and, after 19 years, it’s an ambition I believe we will deliver.”

From left to right: Dr. Drs I Ketut Suardana,M.Fil.H, Aprila Wayar, Rara Sekar, Tim Baker, Osman Yousefzada and Janet DeNeefe

Learn more about the program in 2022 at ubudwritersfestival.com/program

Tickets can be purchased online at www.budwritersfestival.com/ticket-hub or at our office at the onsite Festival Box Office at Jalan Raya Sanggingan in Ubud (View in Google Maps).