The fourth Irrawaddy Literary Festival was, according to popular opinion, the most successful thus far. Here are just a few of the participants’ comments:
“[I] enjoy the Irrawaddy Literary Festival particularly because of the opportunity to mix with predominantly Myanmar writers and learn about Myanmar Literature. The huge turnout of enthusiastic writers and audiences is an impressive endorsement of the Festival’s importance in promoting the link between Myanmar and international writers.”
Jung Chang at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival 2017, Mandalay
“I attended her (Jung Chang’s) talk on Empress Cixi: creation of modern China. It was an amazing and inspiring talk. Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this event. It was a very fruitful and delightful experience for me.“
Ju at Irrawaddy Literary Festival 2017, Mandalay
“THANK YOU for putting on such a wonderful festival in Mandalay. It was certainly one of the most interesting, diverse, and thoroughly enjoyable events I have been lucky enough to be invited to – so please extend my appreciation to everyone, organisers, grafters, and all the volunteers behind the scenes. We were so well looked after, in such luxury, and staying together gave us the wonderful opportunity to make new friends”
Keggie Carew (Dadland), ILF 2017, Mandalay
“This is the festival where not only Myanmar writers but also International writers come together and exchange their experiences and opinions…The Yangon writers who have participated this time enjoyed it very much as a meritorious deed of knowledge-sharing and up-country trip together… Holding this festival in Mandalay is quite appropriate for International writers as Mandalay is the place where all Myanmar arts, crafts and cultural heritages are accumulated and rooted.. ILF is the very first and still one and only international literary festival in Myanmar. Its legacy includes The Nobel Myanmar Literary Festival and other literary festivals. We owe the organisers of ILF for this legacy and we all are responsible for sustainable development of this ILF…. So long as we can motivate people to love and like literature again through these festivals, we must carry on the ILF flag without fail in coming years.”
Shwegu May Hnin, ILF 2017, Mandalay
“The Irrawaddy Literary festival was one of the highlights of our year. It has been my dream to go to Myanmar and see some of my Myanmese friends again, and I am grateful for the festival for making this a reality. It is one of the most inclusive festivals in Southeast Asia, dedicated to fostering open dialogue between local writers and international visitors. The volunteers and translators were excellent, bringing sessions about local history, politics and society to life. The organisers went out of their way with great generosity, patience and care, to ensure that our experience of the festival was a positive one. Thank you, ILF!”
Alice Pung ILF 2017, Mandalay
“…the Festival was very well worth while, welcomed a wide range of speakers, both local and international, ran five simultaneous events hourly, nine hours a day, for three consecutive days, provided free lunches and a celebratory dinner for its contributors every evening, forged links and actively encouraged a free and untrammelled exchange of ideas among the Myanmar participants and their international guests. For me, it was a happy and very well-run, amply generous and idealistically admirable occasion. I enjoyed the Festival enormously and learned a great deal from it, and its extraordinarily rich range of local and international participants.”
Ann Pasternak Slater ILF 2017, Mandalay
“The Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Mandalay was far more than just wishy-washy ‘literature.’ Numerous sessions focused on the situation in Rakhine State, either trying to agree what was happening there or discussing what should be done. As well as the literary festival in Mandalay I met with aid workers and the historian (and grandson of UN Secretary-General U Thant) Myint Thant-U in Yangon and I visited the new capital (absurd new capital) Nay Pyi Taw.”
Tony Wheeler ILF 2017, Mandalay
“… a huge thank you for everything over the weekend (and long before!) We couldn’t have had a more perfect launch for We Were Kings in Myanmar, the response was just lovely…. hope you get the support you need for an ILF 2018. You’ll certainly be getting it from Grammar Productions.
Alex Bescoby, Co-Founder, Grammar Productions
“I, Mya Nanda Thin and other young writers participated enthusiastically [in the first IFL]. It coincided with the time we were trying to revive and reintroduce Civics Education to Myanmar Schools. On the second day of the first ILF, Daw Yin Yin Nwet, Lecturer of Burmese Literature in Beijing University, presented a paper on the importance of Civics Education to students during their formative years.
When the second ILF was done in 2014 in Mandalay, the Civics Education textbooks were successfully reprinted and distributed. A panel discussion on Civics Education was included in that festival. The paper by Sayadaw Rahtapala presented in that panel came out as a book later and was liked and praised by many educationists. Later on the second National Conference of Monastic Education(2015) decided unanimously to start the Civic Education in their schools without awaiting its reintroduction to government schools.
Again in 2017, in the 4th ILF, I organized a panel on the pragmatic educational needs of Myanmar by well known monastic school, Phaung Taw Oo’s Sayadaw U Nayama and MP Dr Hla Moe which stimulated a lot of audiences discussion on education reform strategies.
So also the young volunteers of Election Watch organized a panel on Election Education for the population at large highlighting its dire needs in Myanmar.
We have witnessed the attendence of many teachers and students from Mandalay and the surrounds – a positive sign of the revival of Myanmar lirerature and interest in international authors.There are many more fruits and benefits we have enjoyed in this festival.
Thank you all the organizers of ILF!“
Aye Nyo(Ba Nyo)
“As country director of ILF for Mandalay, I have helped to organise and make three ILFs successfully happen in Mandalay. Out of the three events, to me, this 4th ILF is the most successful one. … the number of writers from Yangon and Mandalay are most numerous this year amounting to 60 from Yangon and 63 from Mandalay let alone more than 30 international writers. If we have more time and more budget, we will have more writers and artists on board. The number of book stalls and attendance are also the highest this year. Among the attendees, young students and young monks are remarkably numerous this year. Overall we are happy and thankful with the results of this 3 day event and hoping for more meaningful and successful festivals in Myanmar for the betterment of our motherland and our people particularly for the younger generations.”
Dr Aung Myint, Country Director (Mandalay)