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Interviews of the South East Asia (S.E.A.) Write Awardees 2012 from Brunei and Indonesia

UNESCO has celebrated the power of books on World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April of every year since 17 years ago.

On this occasion, interviews of the South East Asia (S.E.A.) Write Awardees 2012 from Brunei and Indonesia were featured to emphasize how books transmit the culture of people and their dream for a better future and also to support careers in writing and publishing.

Brunei S.E.A. Write Awardee talks about the gravity of writing

To celebrate the World Book and Copyright Day, Pengiran Haji Mahmud Bin Pengiran Damit from Brunei talked to UNESCO Bangkok about his anthology and ways to promote linguistic diversity through books. He won the 2012 S.E.A. Write Award for his anthology entitled Sepi di Tengah Kota (Silence of the City Hub).

Can you give us the key message from your winning book?

“The ‘Sepi di Tengah Kota’ (SDTK) anthology contains 86 poems, each of which carries a message of its own. The key theme of the anthology is ‘a sense of nationalism which enfolds the nation, state, culture and religion’ and SDTK is one of them."

“A conversation that revolves around the nation could not escape being linked to culture, because each nation orgroup possesses its unique cultural characteristics.”

How does your book relate to your cultural context?

“A conversation that revolves around the nation cannot escape being linked to culture, because each nation or group possesses its unique cultural characteristics. Lifestyle preferences and social stratification are reflected much in the culture. All the 86 poems in the SDTK anthology describe and depict daily life and the local, regional and global culture.”

What was your inspiration to write this book?

“The diverse pattern of human life turns into ideas and inspirations, and becomes fossilized in writings of different genres.”

“A writer/literary figure/artist perceives the world quite differently from other people. While most people see with their eyes, a writer/literary figure/artist visualises something with their emotions, thoughts, perceptions and observations. The diverse pattern of human life turns into ideas and inspirations, and becomes fossilized in writings of different genres. My observations and perceptions of the diversity in life surrounding myself and the world, gave me ideas to write the poems in the SDTK anthology."

What are the possible ways to promote linguistic diversity?

“One can promote linguistic diversity by reading and writing a book which enables you to understand and experience all of the ideas which have been communicated in your mother tongue."

Mr Pengiran Haji Mahmud bin Pengiran Damit works under the pen-name Mahmudamit. He obtained Bachelor of Educations and Master of Sciences Education from Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. He has been working as a Lecturer at Universiti Brunei Darussalam since 1988.

Women’s rights stand tall in Indonesian literature

2012 S.E.A. Write Award winner, Oka Rusmini, from Indonesia reflects in her award-winning novel Tempurung (Earth Dance), which depicts lives of Balinese women and puts the issue of violence against women in the spotlight.   

In this interview with UNESCO Bangkok, Ms. Rusmini told us about her book and her inspiration to write it.

Can you give us the key message from your winning book?

“My book tells the story of women in Indonesia; more specifically women in the contexts of their religion, culture and society. It showcases the traditional Balinese culture by telling the story of four generations of Balinese women.”

"Today, there are more and more females taking up writing as their profession in Indonesia. I am happy to see  many emerging women writers..”

How does your book relate to your cultural context?

“Most of Indonesia's history books were written by men. As a woman, I want to write stories that only women can communicate to readers: stories about feelings of women and violence against women.”

What was your inspiration to write this book?

“I want to encourage women to learn to realise what they want, to help them avoid violence through (my depiction of) religions and indigenous cultures as well as traditions like marriage. Today, there are more and more females taking up writing as their profession in Indonesia. I am happy to see  many emerging women writers.”

How can books be used to preserve/promote linguistic and cultural diversity?

“By reading a novel, one can broaden one’s perspective by having an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs and their lifestyles.  My books, for instance, can showcase the Balinese culture to foreigners who have never been to our province.  By writing a book, a writer can also preserve linguistic and cultural diversity by documenting past and current cultural traditions."

Oka Rusmini lives in Denpasar, Bali Island. She received several national awards, including an award from the Language Center of the Ministry of National Education, the Republic of Indonesia. She has participated in national and international literary events, including Winternachten Literary Festival in Hague and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and has been a guest writer at Hamburg University, Germany.

UNESCO has celebrated World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April since 1995.

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega are all known to have died on that day in 1616 . 23 April also marks the birth or passing of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.

UNESCO chose this date as the World Book and Copyright Day to pay a worldwide tribute to books and their authors on this date, encouraging all readers, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and to gain a renewed respect for the extraordinary contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

The day also provides an opportunity to reflect together on ways to better disseminate the written culture  and to allow all individuals, men, women and children to access it, through literacy programmes and support for careers in publishing, book shops, libraries and schools.