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Features/Literature

Literary silver linings

24 September 2021

Despite border lockdowns, WA literature lovers will get to sample the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival when it arrives in Perth in October.

In what could be perceived as a silver lining to travel restrictions, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) has partnered with Writing WA to host the 18th instalment of the acclaimed Balinese literary festival in Perth.

The exclusive collaboration will bring together international and Australian writing talent for a three-day program of conversations and performance at The Rechabite. In a series of 45 minutes sessions, this hybrid event will mix live presenters in Northbridge with talent from locations as far-flung as Bali and New York City, participating live via the wonders of modern technology.

A black and white photo of a man wearing glasses, sitting in front of a bookshelf
Writer Amitav Ghosh is headlining the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Perth. Photo credit: supplied.

Headlining the event is the renowned writer Amitav Ghosh, winner of the 54th Jnanpith award, India’s highest literary honour. He will be discussing his book The Nutmeg’s Curse, which tackles topics of climate change and colonialism by delving into Indonesia’s colonial history and the role that spices, such as nutmeg, have played in the country’s national development.

Travel is a key topic, with Journalist David Allan-Petale sharing his musings from Roads Less Travelled – writing in the time of COVID on the ability of literature to transport us. He will be joined by travel writer Agustinus Wibowo to discuss travel as creative inspiration and the recent challenges faced by writers during COVID in a session moderated by ABC presenter Christine Layton. The diverse lineup also includes poets, activists, anthropologists, politicians and artists.

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The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) was created in 2004 after the first Bali bombings to bring together a diverse mix of Indonesian and international creative talent for cross-cultural dialogue and connection. The 2021 theme, Mulat Sarira, interpreted in English as “self-reflection” marks UWRF’s 18th year as one of the most celebrated literary events in the international arts calendar. Its positioning in Perth comes off the back of a ten-year working relationship between UWRF and Writing WA, which included hosting the Kembali 2020 event in the WA capital last year.

Writing WA CEO Sharon Flindell says this year’s festival is an innovative partnership between WA and Indonesia. “It is a thrill and an honour to collaborate with the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival to bring renowned international authors, artists, activists, and communicators together with an incredible line-up of Australian writers.”

The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Perth runs from 8 – 10 October and will continue in Bali until 18 October 2021.

Pictured top: The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will arrive in Perth in October. Photo: Linh Nguyen

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Nardia Plumridge

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