Fifth Irrawaddy Literary Festival opens in Mandalay

Opening ceremony of Fifth Irrawaddy Literary Festival was held in Mercure Hotel at the foot of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay yesterday morning.
The Irrawaddy Literary Festival was held with the aims for Myanmar literature to enter into the world, provide opportunities for Myanmar writers to discuss with international writers and exchange literature culture and arts and to instill the habit of reading in the students and the people.

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Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint addresses the opening ceremony of fifth Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Mandalay yesterday. 
Photo: MNA

The ceremony was attended by Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint, Irrawaddy Literary Festival Organizing Committee patron British Consul General to Hong Kong Mr. Andrew Richard Heyn, Literary Festival Organizing Committee Chairman U Nay Oke (St. Paul) and members, local and foreign literati and literature enthusiasts.
The ceremony starts off with songs and dances performed by students of Mandalay private schools.
Next a video file of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s message to Irrawaddy Literary Festival was screened.
In her message the State Counsellor expresses her deep regrets for not being able to attend the event. As a literary fan, she expresses her sorrow for not being present at the festival with the rest. She spoke of her particular interest to this year’s festival because of its theme “Youth and Literature” and recalled her happiness in discovering Myanmar students having keen interest in literature after conducting discussion with them in Mandalay about two years ago. As repeatedly said, the main purpose of reading and studying literature was to expand the knowledge about the world and to learn of the world that was not known to have existed. Reading expands one’s outlook on life and enriches knowledge about the world. As we came to know of how people living far from us live and think differently, we understand and sympathize with each other.
Different people have different opinions on the purpose of literature and this was to be exchanged at the festival. Some tends to think of literature and arts as specific subjects on their own and has nothing to do with political or social affairs. As a politician her belief was literature concerning both politics as well as social affairs. It was all about life itself and she wants all to discuss this subject
Efforts were made toward developing the country both physically and mentally because a country may be developed and wealthy but if the people were not mentally developed, it was yet to be a fully developed state.
Our youths were to improve not only their literature but also other matters too for their future as well as for the future of the country. They were to contemplate seriously on how studying literature could benefit the country as well as the entire world in general.
Some may not agree with this and felt that studying literature means studying the style of writing, the plot etc. All these can discussed at the festival. The State Counsellor expressed her appreciation to overseas literary friends came to participate in the festival and also expressed her gratitude to her old friends Mr Andy Heyn for collaborating with Sayagyi U Nay Oke for making this festival a success.
She added on looking forward to see all again at the next Irrawaddy Literary Festival. In conclusion, you expressed her fervent hope that literary fans, especially youths participant in the festival gain knowledge from exchanging views and discussion topics not only about literature and the country but also about the entire
After screening the State Counsellor’s message Union Minister Dr Pe Myint spoke of the value of Irrawaddy Literary Festival. When it was first held in 2013, the country had many restrictions toward holding such events. In a time where simple literature talks were held with many difficulties, the Ambassador and Saya U Nay Oke successfully organized the festival inviting international literary personnel. This was the event the makes the country more open.
After that, there were more activities and development in the literature circle. There were more activities of local literature personnel as well as in cooperation with international literature personnel. The Union Minister spoke of holding Noble-Myanmar Literary Festival, similar to Irrawaddy Literary Festival, together with literature personnel friends from Yangon and Mandalay then.
By the time he came to the ministry, the practice of holding literature festivals, especially children’s literature festival, flourishes. During the more than three year period more than 60 children’s Literary festivals were held all over the country. Some were huge events with visitors reaching more than 100,000. Everyone knew that the Children’s Literary Festival held in Mandalay was the most successful with the State Counsellor attending it.
Union Minister Dr. Pe Myint thanked those involved in the literary festival, noting that the literary culture has taken root in the country, as literary movements and organizations promoting literature have emerged in recent years.
He further noted that in recent years there have been thousands of books and periodicals published in the country, including the re-printing and publishing of books which were censored in the past.
Meanwhile, the literary movements have produced new writers, including on-line authors in recent years, in tandem with the development of literature in Myanmar, he said.
However, the literary sector has not yet reached a satisfactory level in Myanmar, he noted, adding that this is required to encourage learning international literature in foreign languages, including English.
Union Minister Dr Pe Myint also stressed the need to translate internationally published books and periodicals which deserved to be published in Myanmar.
It was noted that the translation sector in Myanmar remains weak, compared with neighbouring countries, which indicated that the country needs to encourage that sector, in terms of conducting training and producing a new generation of translators, he said.

He also stressed the need to expose the world to Myanmar’s literature and culture, and to develop people who can write about Myanmar’s culture in English, as the human resources in this sector is weaker than the English-into-Myanmar sector.
The Union Minister expressed his hope that those local and international literati can exchange ideas at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival, and the festival can create opportunities for them to realize their ambitions.
Afterwards, Patron of the Irrawaddy Literary Festival Committee, Counsul-General of Britain to Hong Kong Mr Andrew Heyn, along with Chairman of the committee U Nay Oke (St. Paul), delivered addresses.
Following the opening ceremony, the delegation, led by Union Minister Dr Pe Myint, visited the festival.
Over 30 foreign, and more than 100 local literati, are participating in the festival, and they will continue to exchange their views about literature and culture through 11 November. (Translated by Zaw Min and Tun Tun Naing)

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