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Celebrating The 20th Anniversary of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival – ‘Atita, Wartamana, Anagata: The Past, The Present, and The Future’

Join the 20th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, celebrating the Past, Present, and Future of literature, culture, and art in Bali. Meet renowned international and Indonesian authors, enjoy exciting programs, and support literacy and cultural exchange.

Cultural Performance at UWRF 2023

For two decades, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has been a space where writers and readers come together to share stories and have meaningful discussions in Bali’s cultural heart. As it turns 20, the Southeast Asia flagship literary festival returns from 18-22 October 2023!

UWRF 2023 flyer

Celebrating their remarkable milestone, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) revealed ‘Atita, Wartamana, Anagata: The Past, the Present, and the Future,’ for the 2023 festival theme. It is inspired by the Balinese concept of ‘Tri Semaya’ – the philosophical view of time as non-linear, circular, and collective.

The artwork for the 2023 Festival was made by Goenawan Mohamad, a renowned Indonesian journalist, poet, and essayist, known for founding Tempo Magazine and his influential column, Catatan Pinggir (Sidelines). He transitioned as a visual artist specializing in printmaking, and for this artwork creation, he collaborated with the Devto Printmaking Institute and received assistance from his granddaughter, Adinda Hapsari, a young graphic designer. 

The idea of Past, Present, and Future shows how balance and harmony connect all people across generations and time. 

Exciting Speaker Roster Along the Launch of Writers’ Retreat

Exciting Speaker Roster Along the Launch of Writers’ Retreat at UWRF 2023

This year’s theme will be explored through over 40 interesting main programs, covering personal and shared history, spiritual renewal, and today’s social, environmental, economic, and political issues. Emerging, established, and celebrated voices will be part of UWRF 2023.

UWRF 2023 international speakers lineup includes the fearless defender of the environment, Vandana Shiva; Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative journalist, Geraldine Brooks; Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo; 2022 International Booker Prize winner, Geetanjali Shree; 2022 Booker Prize winner, Shehan Karunatilaka; Behrouz Boochani, journalist, human rights defender, writer and film producer; and the unexpected comedic meanderings of Australian political journalists Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb.

Indonesian literary luminaries include Balinese senior author and playwright Putu Wijaya; young literary voice and visual artist Lala Bohang; senior poet, essayist, journalist, and visual artist Goenawan Mohamad, creator of this year’s festival artwork; 2020 SEA Literary Awards recipient, Leila S. Chudori; author, singer-songwriter Dewi Lestari; artist and cultural icon Sujiwo Tedjo; Acehnese artist and storyteller Agus Nur Amal (PM Toh); as well as feminist author and scholar Intan Paramaditha.

In addition, UWRF is excited to start its initial writing retreat from October 15 to October 22 at the luxurious 5-star Plataran Resort & Spa. Renowned novelists Louise Doughty, Jill Dawson, Kathryn Heyman, and Kate Pullinger will take participants on an immersive three-day writing adventure like no other. Afterward, participants will experience four days of festival activities, including the special opening Gala and a dinner at Casa Luna hosted by Janet DeNeefe.

Meet UWRF’s New Ambassador: Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana

Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati named Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana as their official Ambassador for her strong ties to the festivals and her advocacy in literacy and Indonesian literature. As Puteri Indonesia 2022, she embodies the Ambassadorial role, especially through her dedication to Indonesia’s culinary heritage.

Laksmi stated, “I believe that arts and culture are our nation’s biggest assets. The festivals’ vision and mission align with mine, which is to build and strengthen our nation through education, particularly arts and literature activities; this is why I’m more than enthusiastic to support their cause.”

As Ambassador, Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana will represent the festivals to the public, partners, and friends of the foundation. She will effectively convey positive messages about Yayasan’s projects and raise awareness about the festivals’ impact on promoting literacy, cultural exchange, and culinary heritage. This role also enhances her position as an advocate for women’s empowerment, education, and literacy.

Join UWRF in the Festive Celebration of Arts and Culture 

The Festival was created in 2002 in response to the first Bali bombings, driven by the premise that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” The UWRF’s emerging writers program launched in 2008 has been the festival’s vital part, contributing to the local literary scene and leading many alumni to successful careers and international recognition. 

“It’s important that our 2023 program captures our journey over the past 20 years as a celebration of the literary arts and our ever-growing creative community. It is also a time for the Festival to reflect on what we have achieved and where we plan to see ourselves in the next 20 years,” said UWRF founder and director, Janet DeNeefe.

Join UWRF at the most significant arts and culture celebration in Bali for a meaningful cause!

For more information about the Festival’s main program, visit ubudwritersfestival.com/program. To purchase tickets, head to ubudwritersfestival.com/tickets.


Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

Instagram: @ubudwritersfest

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