The Jakarta Post
Our show: The Jakarta Post managing editor M. Taufiqurrahman (left), journalist and author Pallavi Aiyar (center) and British Council director Paul Smith talk at Writers’ Series 2018: The Story of Us at Upper Room, Jakarta, on Saturday. (JP/Ibrahim Irsyad)
For many writers, writing is a medium to tell stories, be it their own or someone else’s.
During The Jakarta Post’s annual Writers’ Series at the Annex Building in Jakarta on Saturday, around 30 illustrious speakers from a wide range of literature disciplines from around the world shared their thoughts and opinions with aspiring writers.
This year, the theme was “The Story of Us”, and each speaker discussed his or her own stories on a number of different topics.
First up was “What’s Up Story?” where the Post’s senior editor and previous editor-in-chief Endy Bayuni shared the stage with Yale-NUS Writing Program director Robin Hemley and Publicis One head of public relations Eugene Laksono to discuss the evolution of storytelling.
As a senior journalist, Endy said the key to storytelling in journalism rested with the readers’ willingness to dive further into the story.
“There would be something missing if people only rely on the headlines, for example,” Endy added.
The second discussion was “Capturing the Voices of a Changing Nation”, with the Post’s managing director M. Taufiqurrahman joining author Pallavi Aiyar and British Council Indonesia country director Paul Smith to discuss the rise of conservatism in Indonesia, a nation hailed for its own brand of tolerance.
Pallavi brought up different, contesting views and thoughts as the ideal narrative of a nation, noting that social media could be used in a nefarious plot to spread fake news.
In response, Paul said storytelling was the best means of journalism, as it had the capacity to voice different opinions while telling the truth at the same time.
The Writers’ Series was also peppered with performances and readings in between discussions. The Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program delivered a multilingual reading of several poems, from Korean to sign language.
One of the highlights of the event was the living library, where readers interacted with authors directly to gain more insight about their books.
After the break, the talks resumed with a session titled “Designing Women”, which featured feminist web magazine Magdalene.co editor-in-chief Devi Asmarani discussing feminism and issues faced by women with author Feby Indirani and Sun Yat-Sen University creative writing director Dai Fan.
Devi lamented the fact that feminism was seen as a dirty word in Indonesia, while Dai Fan noted that being a writer allowed her to accept different perspectives.
Meanwhile, a session titled “Furious Beasts and Fantastic Tales” featured author Ben Loory discussing writing in the fantasy genre with poets Joshua Ip and Lawrence Ypil, from translating real-life characters for a story to challenging the author’s intent through fan fiction.
Earlier, Ben read an excerpt from his short story collection called Tales of Falling and Flying. The story was titled “The Squid Who Fell In Love With The Sun”, a humorous, sad and uplifting story about a squid who managed to build an interstellar ship to reach the sun.
After the discussion turned to the political, Joshua delivered his poem titled “I am Building a Wall”, taking the satirical viewpoint of controversial United States President Donald Trump with a nod to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”.
The Writers’ Series continued on Sunday, with a number of the speakers returning to host a writing workshop at The Jakarta Post Writing Center in Palmerah, West Jakarta. (jlm)