Last Day of the Festival and What a Day it Was!!

Lots of activity today as the Festival wound up.

First session for me was an open forum led by Margaret Bywaters, an Australian librarian who has been living in Cambodia for 30 years. Her guests were Rawi Hage and Kosal Khiev and it was funny how for all it got back to how they love the printed book.

Kosal Khiev spoke of how important books were for him while in prison in USA.

This session was followed by Arn Chorn-Pond, who survived  the Pol Pot regime by playing the flute. He is working in Cambodia now reviving the arts as 90% of artists and intellectuals were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Arn ha published a book about his experiences as a 12 year old during the Pol Pot regime, called Never Fall Down.

Next on our agenda was listening and watching the Khmer Magic Music Bus, which is a group of young Cambodian musicians who are learning traditional instruments and songs and travelling around Cambodia to inspire others to do the same. Arn Chorn-Pond is also involved in this and he is an amazingly inspiring man.The music was beautiful and then everyone was encouraged to get up and dance some traditional dances.

We then listened to two short stories which were final listed for the Young New Writers’ Prize, which is a trip to Melbourne to be mentored by Australian writers.

Back to KAMA then to watch a short film about a group of Cambodian girls who were involved in starting up the first Cambodian girls rock and roll band.

Ian finished off the night by attending the poetry slam, which was the final Festival event.

An incredible 5 days, but what will stay with me the most is all of the connections in the programme to the time in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge reigned. This was occurring while I was about 18, living safely and securely in Australia.

Rawi Hage


Margaret Bywaters and another book I need to put on my reading list


The delightful Kosal Khiev who I must find out more about


Arn Chorn-Pond playing a traditional Cambodian children’s song on the flute


The gates are closed. The Festival is over…until next year!

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