Bali has to be one of my favorite destinations in the world; and to have been invited to take part in the Ubud Writer’s and Reader’s Festival is surely a high point of any writer’s public life. One of the highlights of the festival was to sit around a table and talk poetry with none other than singer, writer film score composer, novelist and actor Nick Cave and have a photo to prove it, which was pretty cool!
And to meet with Australian writers as well as international ones was of course very stimulating.
On the Australian side, I had the pleasure and the company of novelist Phillip Gwynne who lives in Bali, Sue Macpherson winner of the Queensland Premier's Prize for an indigenous first time writer, wonderful fantasy writer Isabelle Carmody, artist extraordinaire prize-winning Anne Spudvilas, poet Katherine Lomer, freelance editor and writer Shelley Kenisgberg and novelist Inez Baranay who currently lives in Istanbul, to mention but a few of them!
I was kept busy giving workshops to some hundred young people as well as adult writers and being part of various discussion panels. So much so that I had little time to attend other talks, but led a splendid social life at night.
Janet de Neefe Founder and Director runs a great Festival from beginning to end, from carefully planned stimulating sessions and a wonderful Opening Ceremony with exquisite dances launching the festival at the palace, to the amazing fire dancers and fire eaters at the closing ceremony at Antonio Blanco's art gallery and everything in between.
Janet’s restaurant, Bar Luna, was our meeting point as we were bussed to amazing venues like private homes where Indonesians open their hearts and kitchens to writers for dinners featuring Bali’s finest food. There was also the Australian Embassy cocktail party, which was a glamorous affair at Casa Luna where I had the opportunity to meet the Australian Ambassador and staff to talk books and stories.
All in all a superbly run festival in a divine setting - well that's from my point of view. And to end it a wonderful afternoon in Shelley's eccentric and wonderful home, seat of Editing in Paradise, before reluctantly going to the airport.