When you’re a young and aspiring writer, meeting established writers can be the most inspiring way to create. This is what Bali Emerging Writers Festival (BEWF) aims to do. The annual literary festival this year takes place on April 24-26 at Danes Art Veranda in Denpasar.
Unlike its big sister, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which draws in a host of established international and local writers, this festival aims at bringing together Indonesia’s emerging new voices, writers, songwriters, filmmakers, environmentalists and social game changers to share their stories and inspire others. The three-day festival features panel discussions, workshops, film screenings and community events.
The lineup of speakers this year includes novelist M. Aan Mansyur, filmmaker Lucky Kuswandi, musician Budi Doremi, author and songwriter Valiant Budi Yoga, poet Ni Wayan Idayati and comic artist Terra Bajraghosa. The program also features a couple of exchange writers from Australia’s Emerging Writers Festival, feminist nonfiction writer Lou Heinrich and fiction writer Omar Sakr. Also attending are author Noor Hasnah Adam and writer and performer Deborah Emmanuel, both from Singapore.
Festival Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe said, “Although we do have visiting writers and artists, (this festival) is essentially about Indonesians – young creative Indonesians networking, showing their works, meeting established writers, meeting emerging writers. It’s about being creative together and having a fun time.”
Travel Writer Windy Ariestanty (Life Traveler) opened the festival on Friday morning with a workshop on narrative travel writing. Her message to the young participants,” Don’t sell a destination, but do tell stories. Unless you’re the first person going to Mars, then sell the destination.”
She added, “Every travel narrative is a process of at least two journeys: a journey in the world and a journey in words.”
Novelist Eka Kurniawan, whose works have been translated to other languages, such as Beauty is a Wound, answered a participant’s question on writer’s block: “I think it’s a myth. If you can’t write today, you can always write tomorrow. For me, I impose a ‘Standard Minimum Writing’ – like the civil servants’ ‘Standard Minimum Service’ – even on the day I feel least like writing.”
The Bali Emerging Writers’ Festival takes place on April 24-26 at Danes Art Veranda, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 159, Denpasar.
*Read Devi’s review on the documentary Tanah Mama