british council malaysia

Eka Kurniawan at Cooler Lumpur Festival. © British Council Malaysia

As writer and a member of Jakarta Arts Council, Eka Kurniawan encountered new things from his first visit to Cooler Lumpur Festival 2014. According to Eka, the festival was not merely a literary event, but also an ideas festival; meaning that the writers not just talked about their works, but also about wider ideas surrounding literature itself: cultures, politics, and even their daily lives. Although each session was short – most of them were one-hour shows –  they can explore and share many things in the same time, but the most important thing was the time spent outside the session, where they met other participants and general public and explored more in an informal way. 

Eka hopes there will be more festivals with similar concept in Indonesia. “Indonesia has some festivals like this, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Makassar International literary Festival in South Sulawesi, or Salihara Literary Biennale in Jakarta. But I think we need more festivals in other parts of Indonesia. The benefits are not only for our literary community, but of course for our culture as a whole.”

We recently caught up with the 39 year-old writer to talk more about his experience.

What do you think about Cooler Lumpur Festival?

It's a great festival. I have participated in a few other literary festivals before, and CLF was really one of stunning event.

How do you think the opportunity to attend the festival has benefited you as an individual and as a writer?

As individual, it gave me a chance to experience sharing ideas with wider community. As a writer, it's so enjoyable to meet other writers from different culture backgrounds.

Who was the most interesting person you met on the trip and why?

There were two people from Myanmar. One is a British Council officer, and the other is a writer/blogger. I never knew anything about Myanmar except whatever I got from paper and TV. Chat with them has given us a better understanding of our cultures.

What was the most interesting show you saw at the festival and why?

"The conversation with ..." Series were the most I enjoyed. Why? We can hear a writer's opinion about almost anything, from his/her craftsmanship to his/her political view. Serious but relax at the same time.

Could you please tell us interesting things you gathered from discussion and dialogue you had during the festival and how will you put it into practice?

Each session was so short, (approximately) one hour. Panellists had to share their ideas or answer the questions in an effective way. I learned a lot from that practice. 

Did the festival contribute to make you think about the relevance of building discussion and dialogue can inspire transformation in our literature field and culture in general?

Of course. Literature and culture can grow only if we open a dialogue with other literary traditions and cultures.

Do you think that this festival can help people who attend it to develop creative leaderships and professional networks?

Yes. At least it encourages us.