Nobel Myanmar Literary Festival
The first Nobel Myanmar literary festival was held in Yangon January 17th-19th. The festival was supported by The Swedish Postcode lottery and Hedda foundation. It was the first time such a huge event was arranged in Myanmar all organized by writers from Myanmar and made for the people of the country. And they came. In thousands, perhaps more than 20 000 took part in the event. Old and young, students, monks, everybody wanted to participate, listen to writer’s presentations, debates and use the opportunity to buy books.
The opening speech was held the President Thein Sein and read out for the audience at the National Theater by the Union Minister U Aung Min. The newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar wrote: “The Presidential message continued that lack of literature would lead to a society with heads but no brains, in which peace is not guaranteed. U Aung Min cited the message as stating that literature is a primary source of peace, humanity and intelligence.”
From Norway both the former bishop Gunnar Stålsett, and the president of Den norske Burmakomiteen Harald Bøckman spoke at the Theatre about Nobel peace prize processes and the Swedish ambassador in Myanmar Johan Hallenborg spoke about the Nobel literary prize. The Norwegian writer of books for children and youth, Arne Svingen, held a 2-days fully attended workshop about writing for kids, a much needed area for development in Myanmar.
Hedda Foundation, Jørgen Lorentzen, presented the history of houses of literature in the world and the work that is being done to establish such a house in Myanmar. Both the Presidential Ministers U Aung Min and U Soe Thein and the Minister of Information, U Ye Htut, were very supportive of the proposal from the writers organizations to establish a House of literature in Yangon.
The literary festival got a lot of attention in all the main media and newspaper, and the work has already started for next year festival in spring 2016.
Photo: The well known Myanmar writer Pascal Khoo Thwe speaking at the openings ceremony. His book From the land of green ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey is a wonderful tale about Pascal’s own life.
Photo: From one of the literary workshops during the festival.
Photo: At the opening of the literary festival. The president of The Norwegian Burma Committee Harald Bøckman, the Norwegian writer Arne Svingen and Khin Maung Win from the organizers of the festival.