London Book Fair 2018 - Day 2

On the second day of the LBF2018, Indonesia spread its wings in promoting the country’s literature. A young Indonesian poet Avianti Armand, equipped with her recent collection of poems titled “Women Whose Names Were Erased” attended a joint-reading and discussion with Estonian poet Maarja Kangro, moderated by Peggy Hughes of the Writer’s Center Norwich at one of the hubs called the Poet’s Corner.

Having two female poets on the stage where women were the majority of the 60 or so attendees seemed to inspire a discussion about the feminist agenda. According to Avianti she is lucky to start writing poems in a time there are vastly reduced barriers to face as a woman compared to the past. She believes it was the female poets before her time that fought for women’s rights in Indonesia. For her, writing is more of an archaeological project. The feminist agenda is more of a by-product.

One of the audience asked whether they have got a sense of the market in terms of poetry. Both Avianti and Maarja agreed that the market for poets is very small and financially there is still a long journey to go. Avianti mentioned that in order to extend the market the poetry world needs to work with other forms of art for instance films.

Later in the afternoon, at one of the hubs called The CrossCulture Hub there was a collaborative talk  between John McGlyn – the co-founder of the Lontar Foundation, Laura Prinsloo – head of the Indonesian Book Committee and by Ricky Pesik – the vice head of the Ministry of Bekraf working hand in hand to let the world know about the great potential of Indonesian literature which is waiting to be discovered. 

Despite the potential namely diversity of culture and growing interest of the world towards South East Asia it seems there are still barriers that need to be surpassed before Indonesian literature is to be recognised by the world enough to receive backing in the form of government support on translation, help with writers’ fees, and International marketing. These things are very costly but according to McGlyn it will all be worth it.

As a representative of the government, Ricky Pesik mentioned that the book publishing world is challenged by the growing digital market. But this can become an opportunity for the book publishers and writers to reach out through cross platform media  for instance from book into games or films

One of the attendees, Kelly Falconer, a literary agent who managed to sell two books of Intan Paramadhita to the Penguin Random House said that it will take a long time to be recognised by the book world. Indonesia needs to be patient and keep knocking on the door. She mentioned South Korea as an example. Even with full support from the government it took the country over six years until their literature started to be recognised by the world. Philip Y Kim, the moderator who also happened to be South Korean agreed.     

The future remains to be seen.  

To be continued tomorrow, the last day of LBF 2018 (Felicia Nayoan)