Following its successful launch in Siem Reap last year, the Khmer Literature Festival is set to kick off in Cambodia’s northern cultural capital of Battambang next month.
So Phina, one of the festival organizers, said the festival, which will run from September 21 to 23, will gather together numerous local authors to discuss the promotion of local literature and poetry.
Activities will be held both indoors and outdoors and include venues at some of Battambang’s most well-known landmarks.
“Battambang province is full of history, culture, and people. This province has a lot of potentials, so it can help our event to be more effective,” Phina said, adding that events will include a bicycling-poetry contest around the former colonial town to promote participants’ personal experience of the town.
“We don’t want the audience to join this event only focusing on the literature itself, but we want to add some entertainment in order to promote poetry as well,” she said.
“In addition, this year’s event will also include a short story and poetry competition. Furthermore, we will include a mixture of arts performances, such as dance, spoken theater, and the local, indigenous, and traditional music performances, such as Khaen and Ksae Mouy,” Phina said.
The first Khmer Literature Festival took place last year in Siem Reap, gathering some 500 avid Khmer literature readers and local writers in the Wat Damnak-based Center for Khmer Studies.
In Battambang this year, the festival will be spread over several venues, such as Phare Ponleu Selpak, Wat Kandal, Wat Domrei Sor, Old City Hall, the Old Bridge.
“The reason that we chose several venues was that we wanted our audiences to know about the cultural infrastructure that is located in Battambang province and to attract their attention back [to the past] because each of the places has its own narrative history, name, and meaning,” Phina said.
The organizers expect up to 1,000 people to attend the festival.
Thon Thavry, an author of a Khmer feminist book, Proper Women, said that she had gained a lot from the original festival in Siem Reap last year.
“I felt really happy because that was the first festival and I had a chance to meet a lot of old authors that gathered together,” Thavry said.
“I decided to join this event because as I am also an author and also I would like to contribute and promote Khmer literature in Cambodia, as well as learn from other authors too,” she said.
Set Hattha, a local writer who recently authored the Khmer-language book Life Insights, echoed Thavry’s comments, saying that she joined the Khmer Literature Festival last year and it was a “superb” event.
“When I started writing my book, they created this event. So it’s given me a chance to promote my book and get to know an old author who I never know before or just heard their name,” said Hattha, who is known by her pen name Kon Jab Meas (Little Red Sparrow).
“Moreover, it gives benefits to the readers and supporters as well, for them to meet the author in person and get to know new authors too.”