Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF) was organised from 17 to 19 November 2016. The British Council was the gold partner of the event. Inaugurated by Noble prize-winning British author Sir V.S. Naipaul, this year’s DLF featured more than 60 international authors, including 20 British writers, demonstrating its resilience to the current security climate and its continued support of cultural exchange through literature. Events ranged from discussions amongst international and Bangladeshi dissident poets to Baul performances to debates on women’s rights. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh and Asaduzzaman Noor MP, Cultural Affairs Minister, Bangladesh also attended the inauguration ceremony.
The British Council collaborated with Dhaka Lit Festival through an outreach programme and roadshow by bringing British authors Steven Fowler and Evie Wyld for talks and workshops, connecting British music writer Simon Broughton with emerging Bangladeshi cultural journalists and through the acquisition of books by the British and Bangladeshi authors featured in DLF for our libraries’ permanent collections, making the work accessible throughout the year.
Steven J Fowler was welcomed for a talk at International Islamic University of Chittagong (IIUC), where 500 students and faculty were present. He spoke about sound poetry, Asemic writing, Oulipo and constraint. He talked about how he came to know about renowned poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. He was very surprised with the questions that came up to him after his talk, such as “whether he supported Donald Trump?”
At the end of his talk, he went to a seminar with the faculties of the university. He had a funny and lively chat with them for a few hours talking about poetry. You can read more about Steven’s trip on his blog here.
Kendall Robbins, Director Arts, British Council, Bangladesh, conducted a conversation with Evie Wyld at Chittagong Independent University. There were more than around 160 guests from different universities present at the conversation. After the discussion was over, questions from the audience were welcomed and audiences were eager to hear from the experience of an international author. After the conversation, there was a rush among the students who came to the British Council Library in Chittagong to look for Evie’s novel. Evie was delighted with the enthusiasm of the students and faculties of Chittagong.
The workshop led by London-based freelance journalist and filmmaker Simon Broughton, took place at the Dhaka University campus office with 22 journalists, where they talked about cultural criticism and arts journalism. At the end of the session, he wanted to have feedback and suggested to meet him on the last day of DLF to discuss short pieces they had written. Overall, the event was celebrated with great enthusiasm.