Makassar Festival Seeks to Promote Eastern Indonesian Writers
Jakarta. Events like the recently-concluded Makassar International Writers Festival are needed to promote literary works from eastern Indonesia, which have long been overshadowed by their counterparts from the western parts of the country, the organizers say.
MIWF founder and director Lily Yulianti Farid said the event was held not only for literature and book lovers, but also to familiarize the nation with local writers from Makassar, among other regions in eastern Indonesia.
The festival took place from June 3 to June 6, raising the theme “Karaeng Pattingalloang: Knowledge and Universe.”
Karaeng was a multilingual intellectual and a diplomat native of Makassar, who served for the local ancient kingdom Gowa-Tallo in the 17th century.
“A literary festival in our own home is a way for us to gather literary figures and readers, to share experience and knowledge,” Lily told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday. “More importantly, it is also a tool to introduce the [national] public to local writing.”
Lily said the literary festival had been held annually since 2011 to address the issue of “literary imbalance” between eastern and western parts of the nation.
She added that the world of Indonesian literature so far has been largely dominated by written works from Java and other regions in the west of the country, so it was time now to introduce literary works by authors in eastern regions — such as Makassar, Manado and Kupang — to the national public.
“These kinds of local festivals with global outreach can make great impacts for people with interest in literature who live in eastern parts of Indonesia,” Lily said. “Eastern literature is currently in a phase of self-growth. This will of course add to the diversity of the Indonesian literature.”
Furthermore, she added, the event can serve as a forum where eastern writers can meet prospective publishers, many of whom purposefully attended the forum to find potential writers from outside of Java.
“Local festivals [like the one in Makassar] offer an opportunity for them to introduce their works.”
The MIWF is also meant to introduce eastern Indonesian youth to both national and foreign literature, by presenting programs presented in “fun and interesting ways,” Lily added.
A number of Indonesian writers attended the three-day event in the South Sulawesi capital, including Seno Gumira Ajidharma, Leila S. Chudori, Oka Rusmini and popular travel writer Trinity.
Foreign participants of the event included Maltese poet Adrian Grima, Dutch graphic novelist Peter van Dongen, Japanese graphic novelist Satoshi Kitamura, Australian cartoonist Rolf Heimann and American media researcher Janet Steele.
This year’s festival also saw the launch of “Perahu Pustaka,” a mobile library taking the form of a boat, which is set to sail from one island to another in the east. The library is part of a campaign to promote reading and writing to people living in outlying regions, who have limited access to literary works.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe