[Audio] UWRF2013: Memoir


Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013

Memoir : Bernice Chauly, Salena Godden, Agustinus Wibowo & Janet Steele

In life there are short stories, big stories, stories that end well & ones that don’t. Would you share them all, or put a shiny & more exciting glaze over them? How do these writers go about writing their memoir – how much is truth & how much is fiction?

Left Bank, 13 October 2013


  • 1308-uwrf2013-Bernice-ChaulyBernice Chauly
    Bernice Chauly is a Malaysian writer, poet and teacher. Born in George Town, Penang, to Chinese-Punjabi teachers, she read Education and English Literature in Canada as a government scholar. For over 20 years, she has worked extensively in the creative industries as a writer, photographer, actor and film maker and has won multiple awards for her work and her contribution to the arts. In 1998, she began organising literary events and, in 2005, founded Readings and CeritAku, which continue to be important platforms for established and emerging writers and poets in Kuala Lumpur. In 2011, she was Festival Director for the Writers Unlimited Tour Kuala Lumpur/Makassar and invited to be Festival Curator of the George Town Literary Festival in Penang, now in its third year. She is the author of four critically acclaimed books, which include poetry and prose; going there and coming back (1997), The Book of Sins (2008), Lost in KL (2008) and the literary memoir Growing Up With Ghosts (2011) which won the Non-Fiction Category of the Reader’s Choice Awards. In 2012, she was invited to be writer-in-residence with the Nederlands Letterenfonds (Dutch Foundation for Literature) in Amsterdam where she began work on a novel. She has toured and performed in literary festivals in Suriname, the Dutch Antilles, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the Netherlands. She lectures in English and Creative Writing at Taylor’s University in Kuala Lumpur.
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  • 1308-uwrf2013-Janet-Steele1Janet Steele
    Janet Steele is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. She received her PhD. in History from the Johns Hopkins University, and is especially interested in how culture is communicated through the mass media. She is a frequent visitor to Southeast Asia, where she lectures on topics ranging from the role of the press in a democratic society to specialised courses on narrative journalism. Her most recent book Wars Within: The Story of Tempo, an Independent Magazine in Soeharto’s Indonesia (Equinox Publishing and ISEAS, 2005) focuses on Tempo magazine and its relationship to the politics and culture of New Order Indonesia. She is has published numerous scholarly articles on media history and criticism, and has lectured on the theory and practice of journalism as a State Department Speaker and Specialist in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Taiwan, Burma, Sudan, Cambodia, Egypt, and Bangladesh. A former Fulbright Professor in the American Studies program at the University of Indonesia (1997-8), she was awarded a second Fulbright teaching and research grant to Jakarta’s Dr. Soetomo Press Institute in 2005-2006. Fluent in Indonesian, she is currently working on a book on journalism and Islam in the Malay Archipelago. She divides her time between Washington and Jakarta.
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  • 1308-uwrf2013-Selena-GoddenSalena Godden
    Salena Godden writes and performs poetry, fiction, memoir, radio drama and lyrics. Her most recent book of poems, Under the Pier, was published by Nasty Little Press in 2011. She has been described as ‘the doyenne of the spoken word scene’ by BBC Radio 3’s program ‘The Verb and ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’ by Kerrang! Magazine. Salena is also lead singer and lyricist of ‘SaltPeter’ and performs with composer Peter Coyne. She has appeared as a guest on radio programs Woman’s Hour, The Verb and is resident poet on Radio 4’s Saturday Live. Most recently she wrote and presented a documentary, Stir it Up! – 50 Years of Writing Jamaica. Salena lives in London.
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  • 1308-uwrf2013-Agustinus-wibowoAgustinus Wibowo
    Agustinus Wibowo is an Indonesian travel writer whose travel experiences have taken him through Asia to the Middle East. He is fascinated by cultures and traditions and is curious about how the world works as one when it is constantly divided by history and culture. He prefers to travel overland when he can and once entered Tibet by pretending to be a Chinese citizen. He also volunteered to help victims of a natural disaster in Kashmir, before deciding on a career in photojournalism and taking on an assignment in war-torn Afghanistan. His first book, considered a masterpiece by many, was Selimut Debu (A Blanket of Dust) and chronicles his journey in Afghanistan. It was followed by Garis Batas (Borderlines: A Journey Through Central Asia), which examines issues of borderlines across ex-Soviet republics, including psychological borders and the search for national identity. Most recently, in Titik Nol (Point Zero), he has pioneered a new genre in Indonesian travel literature by allowing readers to experience the writer’s physical, spiritual and emotional journey as they contemplate their own conflicts and anxieties. As Agustinus recounts his final hours with his dying mother, and honours her journey toward the afterlife, the reader is given time for personal reflection. Parallel storylines between mother and son provide  unusual insights. Agustinus Wibowo’s contemplative approach toward other cultures and peoples has gained him a large following among readers and fellow writers. He has also set the a standard on what it means to be a travel writer in Indonesia.
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About Agustinus Wibowo

Agustinus is an Indonesian travel writer and travel photographer. Agustinus started a “Grand Overland Journey” in 2005 from Beijing and dreamed to reach South Africa totally by land with an optimistic budget of US$2000. His journey has taken him across Himalaya, South Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and ex-Soviet Central Asian republics. He was stranded and stayed three years in Afghanistan until 2009. He is now a full-time writer and based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Contact: Website | More Posts

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