The 2015 Salihara International Literary Biennale opens this Saturday

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September 30, 2015 — Valent Mustamin




The 2015 Salihara International Literary Biennale opens this Saturday, October 3, with an amazing line-up of performers promising to make it one of the best events of the year. The theme of this year’s festival is “Text and Taste”, means knowledge and narration cannot be separated from a sensory and taste experience, that intellectual and culinary wealth are interconnected in literature. 



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The line up range from program like book exhibitions, literary dinner, discussions, workshops, literary tour, and theater performances, to name a few. But as usual, topping the bill in this festival is literary readings, including “Stars Above and Below Jakarta’s Skies”, “Evening Verses”, “Journey to Fantasy”, and “After 70 Years of Independence: Blessing or the Spectre of History?” discussion.

First on the stage, on a Saturday evening, there will be a “Stars Above and Below Jakarta’s Skies”, features award-winning young writers: Dias Novita Wuri, Dewi Kharisma Michellia, Faisal Oddang, Gayatri W.M., Leopold A. Surya Indrawan, and Rio Johan. These new literary stars will be reading their works under Jakarta’s starry stars in Salihara’s open-air theater, Annex Theatre.

Expecting more from this stage is “Evening Verses”, a poetry reading under the evening sky. Ahda Imran, Amanche Franck, Ardy Kresna Renata, Fariq Alfaruqi, Ishack Sonlay, Hasta Indriyana, Nersalya Renata, and Ni Made Purnama Sari, will perform on October 21.

“Journey to Fantasy” will be presenting Indonesian and foreign writers reading various types of works, from travelogues to poetry, on October 24, while literary readings and discussions among Indonesian and Dutch writers about our shared history “After 70 Years of Independence: Blessing or the Spectre of History?” will be held on the last day of festival, at Black Box Theater.


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Coincidence in Indonesia’s participation as Guest of Honor at Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, the festival also aims to draw that excitement closer to the Indonesian audience, by showcasing Indonesian literary works and books through a book exhibition. Taking place in the lobby, Komunitas Salihara have selected several translated works to be exhibited, to help connect these works to a broader audience who wish to read these works in English. Exhibition opens since the very first day and continues until the end of the festival.


Away from those main programs, a couple of new program being added to the line up, including a two-day Literary Tour, where participants and accompanying writers will stay overnight in Bogor, listen to literary readings, and stroll around Bogor Botanical Gardens and other literary landmarks.

 In late afternoon on the first day in Salihara’s open space, the poet Joko Pinurbo will guide participants to write poetry, on Coffee and Poetry class. A coffee brewer and storyteller, “Pepeng” Firmansyah, meanwhile, will regale participants with stories about coffee. This class will be followed by the ceremonial launching of Salihara’s new revamped website, at Annex Theater.

Right after “Stars Above and Below Jakarta’s Skies” session, entire crowd will be heading to Rooftop Theater, for a literary dinner Saying Grace with Poetry. Dinner will begin with poetry recitation in lieu of the traditional words of grace. The feast will consist of a selection of dishes that have inspired some of Indonesia’s great poetry, short stories, and novels.

Other highlights include Spoken Words and Poetry Slam, on Sunday evening, where people can enjoy a cup of coffee under the sky at Annex Theater, while engaging in poetry slam; and the Yogyakarta-based Papermoon Puppet Theatre, and Retrofuturisten, a Berlin-based independent puppets theater company, will perform a theater performance Senlima: A Journey with No Limits, at Black Box Theater.

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This festival will also include six workshops and discussions, which is free of charge to attend.



“Lost in Translation”, a discussion about Indonesia’s literary works written in, or translated into English, on October 04; “Souvenirs from Frankfurt”, a translation workshop and discussion on the topic of introducing Indonesia’s literary works to the world, on October 21–where our very own Valent Mustamin, also appears join in this discussion–; “On the Characters”, a workshop on writing characters as either fiction or non-fiction, as prose or poetry, on October 24; followed by “A Reading of Short Stories by the Participants of Creative Thinking and Writing Class”, at the same day;

“Graphic Novels and Comics”, a workshop with Peter van Dongen on how to convey stories through images on October 25; and “Audio Drama”, a workshop on the particularities of converting stories and news pieces into audio drama, will close this festival’s workshop series.

In addition, in cooperation with Institut Français Indonesie (IFI) Jakarta, Cie Sacekripa, a theater of objects from France will perform a special semi-circus performance, Vu, on October 18.

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Runs in the southern edge of Jakarta, at Komunitas Salihara, entrance to the festival is mostly free of charge for all programs, unless is indicated. 

Full details of the programs are available from their official website, salihara.org. So, don’t miss any of them! Follow Salihara on Twitter for updates, and use #sastradanrasa to join the discussion.

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