One of Southeast Asia’s leading literary events, Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) has officially launched its 18th year, with various online and offline events. From 8–17 October 2021, the Festival welcomes over 130 authors, journalists, artists, and activists, both virtually and on-site in Ubud, Bali.

“UWRF began after the first Bali bombing as an attempt to re-flower the community, to uplift the people, to boost the economy, to bring inspiration, creative platform, and dialogue,” commented Janet DeNeefe, UWRF Founder and Director, during the UWRF21 Press Call. “This is what the people need right now. Our job is to create the best festival we can, given the situation.”

To open the hybrid Festival, the Foundation also presented the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award to Budi Darma, one of Indonesia’s most influential writers, who sadly passed away on 21 August 2021. His works, Olenka and Bloomington People, are highly praised worldwide. His daughter, Diana Budi Darma, received the award on his behalf.

This year, the Festival will share extraordinary stories and bold ideas through the lens of this year’s theme, Mulat Sarira, interpreted in English as Self-Reflection. “We need to build a stronger literary art and culture ecosystem that is facing challenges,” said Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia, during the opening of UWRF21 at Taman Dedari, Ubud. “UWRF is a free space for all of us to reflect, exchange ideas, and share hopes.”

We are also proud to present our partnership with Writing Western Australia (Writing WA), to present UWRF Perth from 8-10 October 2021 in Perth, Australia. One of its highlighted events is Media and Memoir, featuring Indonesian TV anchor, Desi Anwar, and Australian broadcaster, Julia Baird. They will be joined by journalist Gillian O’Shaughnessy to share their illuminating journey of self-reflection.

This Festival will also feature Kim Hyesoon for the Main Program, Autobiography of Death, about the tragic Sewol Ferry incident of 2014 and how to give a voice to death and trauma. Governor of West Java Province, Ridwan Kamil, will also join the Festival for the Main Program, Cities for the People, where he will discuss projects and initiatives during COVID-19.

Another exciting return is our Special Event in Ubud’s best restaurants. By joining Poets in the Garden, visitors can enjoy a five-course meal of dry-aged snapper, slow-cooked watermelon, butter-poached lobster tail, roasted pigeon and foie gras, and Merapi volcano chocolate lava cake, by Chef Chris Salans at Mozaic. While enjoying the meal, listen to the words and music presented by the Neverending Poetry Krew, which includes performances about social issues and relationships, in English and Indonesian.

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