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Malaysian Festival Highlights Rise of Pan-Asian Literature

In a beautifully refurbished colonial building next to George Town’s coastal thoroughfare, a tight-knit yet diverse crowd is hungry for answers. A microphone is passed around, and people rock nervously in their chairs as they wait to throw questions at a row of international authors and editors, who are animated after a heated discussion. Above their heads, the demeaning word “monsters” poses a question: Are writers really monsters — prodigious or hideous — in the age of fear and globalization?

“This year’s George Town Literary Festival’s theme — ‘Monsters and (Im)mortals’ — could not be more timely,” said Gareth Richards, owner of Gerakbudaya Bookshop Penang and Impress Creative editorial, and one of the festival’s co-curators — the other is translator Pauline Fan.

“We live in what Junot Diaz calls a ‘dystopian age’ or Pankaj Mishra terms an ‘age of anger,'” said Richards, referring to authors from the U.S. and the U.K. “Writers need to address these realities in their work and in their ‘civic labor’ if we are to imagine and realize a better world.”

The seventh edition of the George Town festival showcased an annual event that is growing in popularity. After a humble start in 2011, hosting only five writers, the gathering has grown into one of Southeast Asia’s most important literary events, attracting an audience of around 4,500 this year — the highest ever attendance. They are drawn by the increasingly diverse talent on the stage. Year after year, the festival has gathered a mixed crew of about 50 Asian and Western authors, poets, academics and critics, who wrestle with ideas and concepts over three days of panels, book launches and practical writing workshops.

“One lesson from the past — and this has been highlighted in the shortcomings of other festivals — is the importance of preparation and good-quality moderation. A bad moderator can kill a conversation. So a lot of thought goes into choosing an experienced and engaged team, and to begin[ing] conversations in advance of the festival itself,” said Richards, who moderated panels ranging from the return of print magazines in Asia to constructing futuristic literary utopias and the dynamics of publishing the works of Asian writers in translation.

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Divya Marathi’s Marathi Literature Festival, Nashik

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Independent thinking includes the ability to engage in reflective and critical thinking. This ability to think independently without any bias is the very foundation of our democracy. To strengthen and promote this very idea of independent thinking, Divya Marathi organized the second edition of Marathi Literature Festival under the theme ‘Confluence of Independent Thinkers’ in Kusumagraj SmarakThe 3-day festival concluded on 5th Nov 2017 with a live performance by neo-fusion rock band Kabir Café. This rock band successfully fused the mystic saint’s age-old independent philosophy with a modern outlook. The festival also witnessed entertainment packed live performances of Music Maestro Hariharan and Illusionist Abhishek Acharya.

This 3-day festival comprised of 72 eminent speakers participating in 26 sessions and 6 workshops on diverse subjects ranging from Democratic Polity, Literature, Mythology, Medical Ethics in Literature, Literature and Social Movement, Graphic Arts, Tea and Book Pairing, Fake News and even Food Archaeology.

Mr. Girish Agarwal, Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group said, ‘We are happy that Marathi Literature Festival has been able to entice our Marathi readers by marking a confluence of independent thinkers and achievers. This will surely give impetus to our efforts of enabling our readers to think independently without being prejudiced and influenced.’

A special segment ‘Celebrating the power of Independent Thinking’ saw 12 independent thinkers of Maharashtra being felicitated for their passion and being change drivers. Eminent speakers included Mr. Devdutt  Pattanaik , Ms. Savi Sharma , Mr. Sheshrao More, Mr. Rajiv Dogra , Ms. Sheela Reddy, Ms. Neelima Dalmia Adhar, Mr. Nilotpal Mrinal, Mr. Aabid Surti , Mr. Niranjan Chapalgaonkar, Mr. Sambhaji Bhagat, Mr. Uday Deshpande, Mr. Virag Gupta, Mr. Ashish Chaudhary , Dr. Neelima Chauhan, and Mr. Mahesh Kothare.

This festival also hosted interesting sessions on the disappearing traditional games of India by Sreeranjini (Founder-Kavade), Blind Photography by Partho Bhowmick (Founder-Blind with Camera) and Tea & Book Pairing by Snigdha Manchanda (India’s first and finest Tea Sommelier). Workshops on Blogging, ‘Kavya Katta’ and Reading Pleasure added vigour to the literary sessions. A Special edition tea, Landour Gold Tea, was released  as an ode to the beautiful mountains that is the home and inspiration of legendary author Ruskin Bond. Honouring his love for nature, pure green tea was blended with herbs and blooms native to the Himalayas – chamomile, sage, and lemongrass.

To know more visit http://marathiliteraturefestival.com/en/


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The Ekphrases of Eye/Feel/Write: Writing About Architecture

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The building is but material structure. Within its architecture is imbued its aesthetic character. What happens when a writer confronts such a created space, and what texts emerge, themselves rendered as works of art?

At the Singapore Writers Festival, Eye/Feel/Write will launch its third instalment, with the publication of a beautiful anthology, titled Eye/Feel/Write: Building Architectonics, as well as curated reading tours at National Gallery Singapore. A special commission by the National Arts Council, Eye/Feel/Write is an ekphrastic project that invites distinguished writers in Singapore to pen texts inspired by art institutions here.

This year, editor Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé extended the invitation to twelve eminent writers — Aaron Lee, Aaron Maniam, Amanda Chong, Clara Chow, Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Heng Siok Tian, Josephine Chia, Kirpal Singh, Nuraliah Norasid, O Thiam Chin, Toh Hsien Min, and Tse Hao Guang — each creating texts inspired by the history and architecture of the Gallery.

In the preface to the anthology, a series of questions are posed: “On its own, architecture already surfaces its own symbols and associations, its own poetry. How then may a writer gaze upon a building and take in its space, then render the experience in language? How is the language of architecture translated into the language of lyric or narrative? Across artifice and edifice. What of proportion, of range? What of scale and shape, body and motion? What is inhabited, what inhabits, through time and space? What is made manifest, what new memories in the poetry of fiction — and how momentous, how memorable?”

Towards understanding any emerging discourse borne of these ekphrastic experiments, Kitaab shares beautiful insights from several of the contributing authors, as they contemplate how they went about their particular creative renderings.

AARON LEE

“The former Supreme Court building holds special memories for me. In 1998 I was admitted to the Singapore bar to practice as a lawyer in a ceremony that took place in the grand hall of the building. As an apprentice litigator I often accompanied senior lawyers to hearings in the chambers of various judges in the same building, and visited the Court library to do research. The National Gallery Singapore that now stands in the place of the former Supreme Court and the former City Hall, is a marvel of architecture and design. Since it opened I have spent many a contemplative hour in its various galleries enjoying the spectacular art and the grandeur of the building’s interior. For this ekphrasis project I thoroughly explored the NGS several times, always taking my time and stopping occasionally to make some notes when inspiration struck me. I paid particular attention to the exhibitions which told stories about the people who inhabited the Supreme Court building as it was then: judges, lawyers, court workers and victims of crime and those affected by conflict. I wanted to challenge myself to write three different poems for this anthology. The poem ‘Lady Justice Contemplates’ expressed the reverie of a person I imagined as a conflation of an actual judge and the figure of Justice in the tympanum pediment of the building. The poem ‘Then & There, Here & Now’ is a response to two books that I read about the NGS building project. I wrote it as a ‘twin cinema’ poem as a tribute to a newly-invented poetic form native to Singapore, and also because the NGS comprises two buildings, each with its unique history and purpose, now put together. ‘Poetic Justice’ is a tongue-in-cheek mash up of common idioms related to the law.”

AARON MANIAM

“Working at the Treasury Building on High Street, I visit the National Gallery often — sometimes for lunch, sometimes during lunchtime in search of silence amidst the whirring routine of a day. I love the art, but I think I love the architecture more; particularly the clean lines and curves, and how light shines into the most unexpected corners. Desmond’s challenge to us — to write about the architecture — was therefore very welcome! Many of my usual poetic concerns play out here — silence, in-between-ness, space and how we find names for them when they defy easy articulation. I also decided to experiment a bit with myth-making; the Gallery has always struck me as a world unto itself, and it seemed like a fun experiment to see what the dwellers in, and travellers into, such a world might be like. I’ve long been fascinated with world creation, where knowledge of ‘True Names’ enables heroes and heroines to claim a special kind of power. Perhaps such Naming is all that poetry really is!”

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LiterASIAN, North America’s First Asian Literature Festival, Celebrates Asian Canadian Culture, History, Storytelling

On the weekend of September 21, the streets of Chinatown will play host to a literary feast. On the menu is a collection of stories exploring the Canadian experience. Yet this isn’t the stereotypical western spread — attendees will be diving into an often-untold side of Canadian culture and history: the Asian Canadian experience.

LiterASIAN, an annual festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian writing, is the first Asian literature festival in North America. Founded by the late Jim Wong-Chu — his 1986 poetry book, Chinatown Ghosts, was one of the first published by an Asian Canadian — the four day-long festival is packed with panel discussions, workshops, and a variety of book launches from acclaimed writers like Jen Sookfong Lee.

“LiterASIAN is a grassroots festival that celebrates Canadian diversity,” says co-founder and Festival Director Allan Cho. “For a long time, literature has presented the Canadian experience as the British experience. This means that many of us have not seen the other side of Canada. Part of the festival is to showcase unique stories, stories that find their inspiration in Chinatown, Japantown, and Little India. It intends to give a full-bodied Canadian experience.”

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Padma Lakshmi to attend Mountain Echoes, Bhutan literature festival this month

Model, actress and gourmet goddess Padma Lakshmi is all set to attend and speak at Mountain Echoes, Bhutan’s literary festival to be hosted this year from August 25 to 27 in Thimphu.

Beating tension at the borders, Bhutan’s happiness index would surely go up a few more notches once it comes alive to the festival of storytelling, music, poetry and conversations amid much camaraderie.

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What Occupation? New Generation of Palestinian Writers Shifts Focus From Politics to ‘Life Itself’

“We are not a reading people, and there are light years between civilization and us,” my high school principal in Kafr Raina in the Lower Galilee would say over the loudspeaker once a week before we entered our morning classes. This statement seeped into the consciousness of the sleepy students and shaped their view of reality. Although the school library was big, it was pretty quiet.

The teachers also perpetuated the saying “the Arab people are not a reading people.” They stood helpless in front of us with Arab literature curricula that hadn’t been refreshed for years. They were stuck with boring, modernist Egyptian literature.
“If I had sufficed with what I learned in school, I would have been illiterate,” says Hisham Nafaa, a writer and journalist from Beit Jann who lives in Haifa. “I don’t think the Education Ministry understands that part of its job is to provide culture to Arab society.”

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Asian American Authors at LitFest Pasadena

LitFest Pasadena will be held throughout the Pasadena Playhouse District on Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, from 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event celebrates its sixth year with a packed weekend of readings, authors’ panels, poetry, and celebrity guests — programming for all ages and interests. Presented by the nonprofit arts and education organizations Light Bringer Project and Literature for Life.

Panels include:

• “Sunshine Noir” on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd. Join a lively panel of L.A. mystery writers as they explore the inspirations, challenges, and adventures involved in writing about crime, danger, mystery, death, and even evil in the land of sunshine, surf, and optimism.

With Naomi Hirahara (“Sayonara Slam”), Steph Cha (“Dead Soon Enough”), Phoef Sutton (“Heart Attack & Vine”), Adam Walker Phillips (“The Silent Second: A Chuck Restic Mystery”), Jo Perry (“Dead Is Better”), moderated by Gary Phillips (“The Cocaine Chronicles”). Read more

Source: Rafu


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Jaipur Literature Festival arrives in USA

Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest literary festival of its kind, will make its mark at a number of literary and art events in USA this fall. The festival has entered into a collaboration with New York based Museum of Modern Art for hosting three art performances during the Fall 2017. These events will be held prior to the three-day Jaipur Literature Festival scheduled to be held in Boulder, CO, from September 15 to17.

Sanjoy Roy, producer of Jaipur Literature Festival, made this announcement at an event organized by Hindi Sangam Foundation; a New Jersey based educational and cultural organization. The event was held at the Consulate General of India in New York on Tuesday, May 9.

“Our focus is to make literature in all languages accessible to the common man. More than 60 percent of the JLF audience is comprised of young people, who are empowered by such events. We believe in sharing knowledge democratically. It helps us connect with the younger generation who are capable of bringing social change”, said Roy in his address adding that it was an uphill task to popularize literature through festivals. Read more

Source: The Indian Panorama


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The EU together with LASALLE College of the Arts will inaugurate the European Union Writers Festival on May 26

 

image001Celebrating 60 years of the European Union (EU) and 40 years of EU-ASEAN ties, the EU together with LASALLE College of the Arts will launch its inaugural European Union Writers Festival to deepen its cultural connections with Singapore. The festival is a celebration of culture and literature that transcends borders.

With an opening event and full-day of panel discussions on May 26, the festival explores the themes in European contemporary literature and shares the insights of Singaporean authors who have travelled to Europe and written pieces in response to their journey. You can look forward to a series of talks by industry experts from arts, film, and writing backgrounds as they offer contextual understandings into the overseas and Singaporean literary scenes.

It will create a platform for European writers and publishers based in Singapore to discuss their work and ideas which inspire writing in many forms. Highlights include German writer and filmmaker Michael Schindhelm who will present his latest publication, Happy Tropics I and discussions on topics such as Art Writing, The Craft of Film Writing, The Fine Art of Publishing, and Writing in the Age of Social Media.

Opening night: Thu 25 May, 6pm – 7pm

Venue: Campus Green, LASALLE McNally Campus, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

Festival: Fri 26 May, 10am – 3pm

Venue: The Singapore Airlines Theatre Foyer, Basement 1, LASALLE McNally Campus, 1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

Admission: Free

For more information, visit the website here.

Schedule

10am – 11am: In Conversation: Michael Schindhelm with Darryl Whetter

11am – 12pm: Art Writing and its Challenges

12pm – 1pm: The Craft of Film Writing

1pm – 2pm: The Fine Art of Publishing

2pm – 3pm: Writing in the Age of Social Media


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Authors, thinkers to grace ZEE JLF’s The British Library edition

With over 70 eminent authors and thinkers, the British Library here will be transformed into a literary platform as it hosts the first edition of ZEE JLF @The British Library this weekend.

To be held on May 20-21, the event would showcase South Asia’s unique multilingual literary heritage and highlight the festival’s global appeal.

ZEE JLF@The British Library is also the first of five cultural strands which form part of the Year of UK-India of Culture in 2017, celebrating the deep cultural ties and exchange between the two countries.

ZEE JLF@The British Library has unveiled the final list of authors who will grace the event which includes prominent writers and thinkers Arundhathi Subramaniam, Mihir S Sharma, Prajwal Parajuly, Meghnad Desai, Neel Madhav along with director Karan Johar and scientist Sharad Paul. Read more

Source: The Indian Express