Ubud Writers And Reader’s 20th Anniversary Festival to Open With Special Program

Today marks the start of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), taking place from 18 to 22 October. The four-day Festival unites renowned writers, poets, and novelists, exploring the theme 'Atita, Wartamana, Anagata: Past, Present, Future.'

As the Festival reaches this important milestone, it will present an expanded program, featuring over two hundred speakers and an equal number of programs. These programs will encompass not only Main Program panel discussions but also Special Events, Masterclasses, Book Launches, Film Screenings, Arts Exhibitions, and Fringe Events in Denpasar and Singaraja.

Among the prominent names featuring in the Anniversary Festival's lineup are the fearless environmentalist Vandana Shiva, popular Australian journalists and podcasters Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb, Indonesian writer and Man Booker Prize nominee Eka Kurniawan, senior journalist, poet, and visual artist Goenawan Mohamad, Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, Irish writer Megan Nolan, and many more.

In addition, the Festival will host two full-day programs at Udayana University in Bali, featuring Indonesian writer Henry Manampiring among others, and a Changemaker event at the iconic Green School with speakers including activist Vandana Shiva, ethnographer Dr. Justin Wejak, and indigenous activist Helena Gualinga. Following the Festival, a series of Satellite Programs will take place in Jambi, Maumere, and Mataram, featuring American fiction writer Tanaïs and American visual artist Edel Rodriguez, with support from the US Embassy in Jakarta.

“We are extremely grateful that, twenty years after the inception of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, we can still present this event to literary, arts, and current affairs enthusiasts from around the world. The Festival has served as a vibrant platform for cross-cultural, creative, and intellectual exchange, bringing people together through the power of storytelling,” said Festival Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe.

This year, the Festival will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to senior Balinese playwright and poet Putu Wijaya. Putu Wijaya's life is a testament to the transformative power of literature, as his influence extends beyond his prolific writing to nurturing and guiding aspiring writers and performers in Indonesia.

“Tonight, we celebrate Putu Wijaya, a true luminary in Indonesian literature and the performing arts. His lifetime of dedication has left an indescribable mark on our cultural heritage, enriching lives and inspiring countless talents to flourish. His words have the power to transport readers to the heart of Indonesian culture, and it is with great honor that we present him with the Lifetime Achievement award tonight,” said Janet DeNeefe.

This year, the Festival will also launch the 20th Anniversary Edition of the annual Bilingual Anthology of Indonesian Writings. It will compile the best short stories from Emerging UWRF writers spanning 2008 to 2022, along with a new short story from our 2022 emerging writer, who earlier this year participated in an online writing workshop.

To provide greater visibility to Indonesian writers, this year's Festival features 16 writers from the National Talent Management. The Festival also seeks to support the preservation of local Indonesian languages by presenting the Rancage Awards to five writers who write in their respective languages.

And, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary, the Festival has also revamped its website, providing visitors with enhanced access to our program. Festival attendees can explore the diverse voices featured through an improved user interface and plan their literary Festival experience by bookmarking their favorite events. Additionally, the Festival is reintroducing the Full Program Book, following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

We hope that this year's Festival can reignite the love for arts and literature in the hearts of every festival-goer. We also hope that the Festival will help us maintain optimism that, despite the challenges our contemporary world brings us, we can still find meaning and solidarity with others through creative endeavors,” Janet DeNeefe concluded.


for media inquiries and interviews with Janet DeNeefe, please contact Sebastian Partogi via sebastian@yayasansaraswati.org or through WhatsApp at +812 1353 7156.

To learn more about the Festival’s Program, visit ubudwritersfestival.com/program. To buy tickets, visit: ubudwritersfestival.com/tickets. The Program Book can be downloaded here.

Furthermore, we invite you to explore the Festival Media Kit, where you can access biographies and headshots of our speakers. This comprehensive resource also includes all the essential materials you need to enrich your coverage and promotion of the Festival. 

Download our Program Book to plan your ultimate 4-day literary long weekend.
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