Ubud. Poetry legend Sapardi Djoko Damono received a lifetime achievement award at the opening of the 15th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival at the Ubud Royal Palace in Ubud, Bali, on Wednesday (24/10).
Sapardi, who has published 50 books, accepted the award from festival founder Janet DeNeefe and founder of Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, Ketut Suardana.
The legendary poet used the opportunity to thank his readers, publisher and editor at Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
"I would like to thank my readers and my publisher. I believe there is always a connection between readers, the publisher and the author. I also would like to thank my editor, Mirna Yulistiani, who helped me pick the right titles for my work, including 'Yang Fana Adalah Waktu' ['Only Time Is Temporary']," he said.
The 78-year-old also announced he will release two new books by the end of the year. His works have been translated into 13 languages.
His most famous work, "Aku Ingin" ("I Want"), is a well-loved classic and passages from it are often quoted in wedding invitations.
"Hujan Bulan Juni" ("Rain in June") has been adapted into a movie.
His poetry also inspired many musicians, such as Reda Gaudiamo and Ari Malibu, to create musical versions.
Former foreign minister Marty Natalegawa referred to Ubud Writers & Readers Festival as "a celebration of words," and highlighted the importance of expressing human emotions and storytelling in his opening speech at the Palace.
"In my 30 years in diplomacy, word is a key element [...]. A festival of this type is important to define ourselves, to let us speak of our wishes and hopes heart to heart, and hopefully, create a better understanding about one another," he said.
The theme for this year's Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is "Jagadhita: The World We Create." It is based on a Balinese philosophy that advocates the individual pursuit of harmony and prosperity.
I Gde Pitana from the Ministry of Tourism said this year's festival will be a big help in restoring Bali's tourism industry after the eruption of Mount Agung in June.
Many famous Indonesian writers, artists and politicians, such as Sapardi, Marty, Butet Manurung, Djenar Maesa Ayu, Avianti Armand, Yenny Wahid, Garin Nugroho and firebrand Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, will attend the festival as panelists.
The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival runs until Sunday, Oct. 28.