The Fifth Khmer Literature Festival to Offer an Array of Events and Activities in Pursat Province

The 5th Khmer Literature Festival will offer a varied program. Photo: Khmer Literature Festival Facebook

PHNOM PENH — “A nation or culture is alive as long as literature breathes,” says So Phina, a founder of the Khmer Literature Festival that will be held on Oct. 21 through 23 in Pursat Province on the theme of “Living Legacy of Literature.”

“This festival is an essential part of the culture,” she said.

The 5th Khmer Literature Festival will offer a varied program that will include a cultural site visit and reading night as well as a writing workshop, discussions about literature, an exhibition on the country’s literary heritage, a garden of poetry, art, a dance performance and so on, Phina explained.

The festival aims to build a literary environment for the Cambodian audience, increase the value of writers in society in the context of social development, and expand partner and marketing opportunities for Cambodian writers and publishers, she said. It is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Information as well as the Pursat Provincial Administration and the country’s literary community, philanthropists and members of the public, she added.

Although the publishing industry in Cambodia has expanded, challenges remain, Phina said. Book fairs and activities aiming to promote the culture of reading in the country have grown and produced results over the past 10 years, but intellectual property still poses challenges for writers, she said.

“It can affect the publication and translation in Cambodia,” Phina said, adding that more efforts must be made so the public can understand the importance of intellectual property and how this may affect the country’s writers and artists if their rights on their own work is not protected. 

The first Khmer Literature Festival was held in 2017 in Siem Reap province. The second festival took place in Battambang province while the third was in Phnom Penh City. The 2020 festival was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the years, the support of the Ministry of Culture Ministry and Ministry of Education as well as of the general public has increased, Phina said. While around 500 people had taken past in the festival in Siem Reap province, more than 1,000 people attended the event in Battambang province and Phnom Penh City, she said. Many more people may have taken part in the online festival in 2020 since people from all provinces could do so, she added.

So Phina, a founder of the Khmer Literature Festival that will be held on Oct. 21 through 23 in Pursat Province. Photo: Khmer Literature Festival Facebook

This year, Phina said, the festival is being held in Pursat province: the Pursat High School and several other locations in Pursat City including the museum, the pagoda, Sampov Meas Island, as well as the sanctuary of Khleang Moeung—a local “neak ta” or spirit guardian who is half myth, half historical figure from the 16th century.

Phina, who is an author and a poet, is originally from Pursat province. “It is my hometown, and I have a lot of childhood memories, such as renting a Khmer literature book written by the authors who survived the Khmer Rouge regime to read during the late 1980s,” she recalled. “It was exhilarating…When I was young, I remember there was art performance events at Sampov Meas Island…people would bring their woven mats to watch the shows until dawn.

“But now, this is all gone, and we want to bring it back to remind and encourage young people as to what they can do to promote the culture in their provinces,” she said.

At the festival in Pursat province, several publishers, such as the NGO and publishing house SIPAR, will present their books. Publishers who would like to do so can contact the festival team, Phina said.

For more information on the Khmer Literature Festival, please visit its Facebook page:

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