What I found out about this month’s Khmer Literature Festival, Issue #207, ‘Belonging’

S P A C E is a weekly e-mag. Issue #207 is inspired by the energy in the room at the press conference last weekend for the Khmer Literature Festival, which is set to take place later this month. So far for five years, it has been staged in different provinces of Cambodia. Details about the festival are at the NEPCambodia.Org page, here, and the Khmer Literature Facebook page, which is: https://www.facebook.com/khmerliteraturefestival.

Something neat about this is the focus on Khmer language writing and Khmer authors. Very cool.

Organizing a festival like this in a culturally agile way takes a lot of skill, sensitivity, and empathy. I’ve seen so many instances of foreigners trying to run things, or, in my hometown, non-white people trying to make things for ‘all of us in our community’, and getting into lots of trouble for being unskilled in how to manage the differences we have, intraculturally, and interpersonally, besides the obvious lines of ‘nation’ or ‘ethnicity.’ I feel very strongly about inclusion, in a meaningful way. It’s nice to show up at an event where the people who are making it are respectful of the different levels of awareness people around the country have about books, writing, literary arts, and the possibilities to create and co-create.

What I understand from the conference and the translations that people gave me because people are really nice, and helpful, and that is why I have stayed here, by the way, is that the festival is created by and for Khmer people who are, and aspire to, keep writing and creating new things.

This is lovely to watch unfold, and appreciate. It’s valuable to create something from scratch in the way you want and watch it grow, year over year, as you learn how to tweak and change things. If it sounds like I’m talking about this as if I know something about that, I started S P A C E in 2017, and the Khmer Literature Festival is the same age as S P A C E. It’s neat to see a parallel journey, but only get to know it in person last week. I’m glad I attended. I felt welcomed, even as a non-Cambodian guest, which was exactly what I was hoping could happen.

Inspired, I made ‘Belonging,’ which is this week’s issue of S P A C E.

Here is a link to this week’s issue, in our shop.