Omar Musa. Image courtesy of George Town Literary Festival.

Running from 27 – 29 November, the George Town Literary Festival is the place to be for all literature lovers. This year, the festival returns with the theme of “We Are Who We Are/Are We Who We Are?”. Several exciting writing workshops have been lined up, while panels on current issues spark discussion and provide perspective. Below are some programme highlights:


Writing Workshop: Omar Musa – Spoken Word Poetry: How To Bring a Poem to Life

27 November, 1pm – 2.30pm, Cheah Kongsi, Scholar’s Room, RM50 admission fee.

For all aspiring poets and wordsmiths looking to hone their skill, this workshop helps you strategise on how to craft, practise and perform your work.


Voices: Woman is I – Personal Monologues from the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC)

27 November, 3pm – 4pm, Black Kettle, Mrs Potts, free admission.

Coming to you in its second edition, PWDC honours the individual voices of women in “Woman is I”. This calls on one to discover and express through personal stories, by women and for women, providing a stark reminder of how society often silences women when they should be heard equally, if not more, than their fellow counterparts.


Wayang Kulit Seri Warisan Pustaka

27 November, 8pm – 9pm, Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, free admission.

A Pusaka production featuring the Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Seri Warisan Pustaka from Kelantan, the internationally acclaimed group will be led by Abdul Rahman Dollah (Dalang Nawi) and Mohamad Hassan Noor.


Wayang Kulit. Image courtesy of Lyn Ong.

Cartooning as an Art of Protest

28 November, 9.30am – 10.30am, The Space @ 216 Beach Street, free admission.

This art exhibition will be opened by Zunar and launched by YB Zairil Khir Johari, Executive Director of the Penang Institute.


Reading and Panel Discussion: The Other Side of Silence

28 November, 10am – 11am, Black Kettle, Chip, free admission.

Listen to women writers of different backgrounds who specialise in different genres – Anja Utler, Franca Treur, Xu Xi and Chuah Guat Eng – as they discuss their treatment of literary “silences” and of truths uncovered. The session will be moderated by Shivani Sivagurunathan.


Reading and Panel Discussion: The State of the Nation

28 November, 11.15am – 12.15pm, Black Kettle, Mrs Potts, free admission.

Find out where Malaysian writing currently stands: whether it features too much or too little on individuals and politics, and whether the national climate affects our manner of writing.


Conversations: Wajahat Ali and Marina Mahathir – Who is Entitled?

28 November, 2pm – 3pm, Black Kettle, Mrs Potts, free admission.

Listen to two leading voices on Islam, social justice and civil society, while exploring the East/West divide, what forms our identity and the fine line between tolerance and silence.


Image courtesy of Wajahat Ali.


Dinner and Conversation with Tan Twan Eng

28 November, 6.30pm – 10pm, The Blue Mansion (Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion), RM150 per person (without wine); RM240 per person (inclusive of three pairing wines).

Award-winning author Tan Twan Eng encourages visitors in Penang to look at the beautiful restoration of the iconic Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. This was the meeting place of Philip’s parents, one of the characters in Tan’s book The Gift of Rain. Take a tour of the mansion and find out more about the luminous literary character, while enjoying a magnificent dinner.


Aku Mahu Hidup Seribu Tahun Lagi – the Poetry of Chairil Anwar

A legendary poet from the Nusantara period in Indonesia, Chairil Anwar’s influence remains strong in his highly renowned work consisting of 70 poems. Witness a conversation between Lily Yulianti Farid and Eddin Khoo, with readings from festival poets.

28 November, 7pm – 8pm, China House, Vic’s, free admission.


Spoken Word Event: Pontianak

28 November, 10.30pm – 11.59pm, Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, free admission.

Ever noticed how folklore often gives “ghost” figures a feminine gender? Pontianak explores these patriarchal narratives and re-creates them through the spoken poetry of five women poets: Elaine Foster, Sheena Baharudin, Melizarani T Selva, Ilya Sumanto and Nabila Najwa.


Pontianak. Image courtesy of Lyn Ong.


Basic Painting and Cartoon Workshop with Zunar

29 November, 10.30am – 12.30pm, Cheah Kongsi, Scholar’s Room, RM20 admission fee.

We are all familiar with Zunar’s cartoons. Learn how to draw a cartoon character, give it facial expression, provide a setting and generate dialogue.


Reading and Panel Discussion: Judy Fong Bates and Robin Hemley – The Pain of the Memoir

29 November, 3.15pm – 4.15pm, Black Kettle, Chip, free admission.

The reflective journey of writing an autobiography tends to be one filled with grief and pain. Explore the whys of personal writing for the public and the difficulties that accompany the task.


Festival Finale: Interchange

29 November, 7pm – 8pm, China House, Vic’s, free admission.

Discover supernatural thriller Interchange through a conversation with its producer and scriptwriters – Dain Said, Nandita Solomon, June Tan and Redza Minhat. Moderated by Bernice Chauly, you may expect an exclusive sneak peek of the film as well.


Find out more about George Town Literary Festival on its website and Facebook.


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