Held at Wat Damnak and Wat Bo in Siem Reap province, the Khmer Literature Festival was a success, drawing about 500 people. The three-day event included many panels involving young writers, aspiring writers, and bookworms.
So Phina, director of the festival, said the event was an opportunity for participants to think about the value and meaning of Khmer literature. It encouraged reading and motivated people to write and read more.
“The festival helped to inspire young writers to develop more literary ideas, and create platforms for writers to discuss and promote Khmer literature,” said Ms Phina.
Ms Phina said that literature was a manifestation of culture and and society. She said that writers cannot be separated from their society because they write about their experiences and what they see. Therefore, she thinks writers should have the freedom and right to write about what they want. She thinks literature has a positive influence on society.
Sovann Luch, 15, a student from Liger Learning Centre, said that in the past he had attended events focusing on literature in English, but he jumped at the opportunity to attend the Khmer Literature Festival. He said he registered to join because he wants to promote and preserve Khmer literature.
“It is very constructive; I can meet young writers and learn how to write novels and poetry from them. I know that some Cambodian students don’t speak and know their native language well, yet I encourage all writers to write more because students will understand it one day,” said Mr Luch.
Mr Luch suggested students read more books rather than spending their time using electronic gadgets and visiting platforms such as Facebook or playing games. He said he wants to see more such events, preferably held annually, in order to promote awareness among students regarding Khmer literature.
Leong Phosreyneang, 15, a student from Liger Learning Centre, said that until now she had been urged by her father to read. She took the decision to register for the festival herself, however, because she wanted to figure out how writers created their works and wanted to meet writers in person.
“I realised Cambodian writers have huge potential and that they can help make positive changes in society. And I do love the way that they share their stories. They really motivate me, and now I am thinking of writing a book too,” added Ms Sreyneang.
Ms Sreyneang urged young people to attend the festival next year, saying it could help them develop their passion for writing, and that they could learn from participating writers.