The ever-awaited event for literature junkies is coming round the corner. Yes, people. The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2022 or #UWRF22 will once again bring Ubud to a cultural buzz from October 27 (yep, that’s in two days,) to October 30, 2022. Once again, writers, readers, activists, artists, and performers will converge on Ubud, Bali’s cultural highland, to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the issues that bind humanity together and, conversely, what pulls us apart. Keynote speakers will host thrilling stories and ideas exploring this year’s theme: Uniting Humanity.
Borrowed from an ancient Javanese philosophy, ‘Memayu Hayuning Bawana‘, means the principles by which we care for, protect, and beautify our universe. Bawana, refers to ‘our world’, which is not only a physical space but also a cultural and deeply spiritual realm. Memayu, is the way we sustain the beautification of our planet on our eternal path to universal harmony. UWRF translates this philosophy into ‘Uniting Humanity‘, which will unfold as a series of programs responding to humanity’s capacity to strengthen our ties as individuals and the world as a collective.
UWRF 2022 will explore the power of storytelling to ask how we can bring together the common threads of different cultures and perspectives to pave the way for a deeper understanding and mutual respect. How can we stop the threats of persecution, conflict, and human rights violations? Critical topics will include the role of literature in upholding humanity’s values and freedoms, to achieve equality for women and diverse-gender people, and further exploring environmentally sustainable practices.
To accompany the UWRF theme, Balinese artist Ni Luh Pangestu expresses the sentiment of connectivity through the medium of printmaking. Intricate lines form a figure whose life force is woven into the landscape to create a rich and animated realm. In her response to the theme, Ni Luh Pangestu says, “This work was created by combining the techniques of carving, manual colouring, and digital colouring. The ‘cukil’ trail becomes the dominant element that forms the work. The practice of carving is a meditative process that requires a high level of concentration using a knife or sharp weapon. We are given the ability to make them, and we need intelligence in using them not to hurt each other but to create something useful, to create unity, to create harmony.”
Janet DeNeefe, UWRF Founder and Director, is delighted to welcome visitors back to Ubud for intimate discussions from key speakers who “tell stories about themselves, their community, and their place in the universe, and how these stories connect us across cultures. We are thrilled to have the UWRF 2022 festival take place in-person, where we can engage on a deeper level”.
What to expect from the festival? Well, for starter, they have carefully crafted workshops, the #UWRF22 will also carry out free film screenings that give you opportunities to have a dialogue with the directors, actors, and scriptwriters. Not a big movie fan? Understandable. How about food? The #UWRF22 has made it their objective to quench as many thirst you have as possible, including one to make and eat better food. Their cooking class starts with a market tour in which you will learn the art of spotting and picking out the freshest of products available in the market. What’s better than knowing exactly what you put into your body… beside eating it, of course. None, we say. So go to their website and book your spot now.
If you are a mother and is dying to go but got no one to look after the kids, worry not! Children programs are available throughout the days with captivating activities designed to stimulate your kids with creative juice; giving you some much-needed time to just sit back and have a nice conversation with the mother sitting next to you. Their kid-friendly sessions are for children and families and are included in the main listings. Children aged 11 and under must be accompanied to all events and workshops by an adult. Should they have their own tickets? Children six and over need to have their own festival pass ticket. Children under six can just pitch up and join in the festival venue – provided they have an adult with them, of course. However, if you have booked tickets for their Workshops and Special Events, please do not bring your kids. In general, kids are also not permitted to partake in any activities as part of the events and may not be permitted to licensed venues.
The 19th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) is one of the major annual projects of the not-for-profit Foundation, Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati. It was first conceived in 2004 by Janet DeNeefe, co-founder of the Foundation, as a healing project in response to the first Bali bombing. It is known as the biggest Festival of words and ideas in Southeast Asia. It helps to promote Ubud as an art and cultural centre, showcases Indonesian writers on an international stage, and helps young Indonesians to reach their potential through educational programs and literature. Proceeds from ticket sales are also used to cover free public events, free workshops for local children and high school students and their teachers, and to subsidize attendance of residents who otherwise could not afford to attend.
Oh my gosh, there are literally so many great programs to choose from, I have no idea which one I should book! Well, quoted from their website, here is what the founder recommends us to pick:
I am really looking forward to the session about President Joko Widodo with Darmawan Prasodjo, Tim Hannigan, and Ari Dwipayana in conversation with Michael Vatikiotis. He’s been such an impressive, stable leader, and I am curious to know more about him.
I am also looking forward to the session about Munir Said Thalib, one of Indonesia’s most famous human rights activists, who was murdered in 2014. His wife, Suciwati Munir, has published her account of life with Munir and of the events after his death and will share her story alongside Matt Easton, whose book We Have Tired of Violence delves into the struggle to bring the ‘real’ perpetrators of Munir’s death to justice.
Carla Power, the author of two Pulitzer Prize Finalists in General Nonfiction, will speak on her new book Home, Land, Security and the complexities of race, language, and the climate crisis with Michael Vatikiotis. This is the type of session that our audience loves.
I am also excited to see Kylie Moore-Gilbert in conversation with Drew Ambrose. I think we all know her story of her fight to survive imprisonment in Iran. In light of the current nationwide protests in Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini — a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by police, this is an event that should not be missed.
I’m also looking forward to seeing Purbo Asmoro’s wayang performance. Purbo is a shadow puppet master known for combining classical forms and dramatic innovation of this traditional form of puppet theater, and we are honoured that he will be joining us, thanks to the support of Griya Seni Ekalaya.
So, ready for the #UWRF22? So are we. Book your tickets now and see you there! Until then, please stay safe and healthy. Salam!