Monday, 13 Jul 2020
09/10/2019 12:13 PM

By Siti Baaqiah Mamat

NUR-SULTAN (Kazakhstan) (Bernama) -- Asian writers have called for the sharing of literary works to forge unity among the people of the continent.

Writers and poets who attended the inaugural Forum of Asian Countries’ Writers in Kazakhstan's capital Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana) recently were also of the opinion that more of their works should be translated into other Asian languages to strengthen literary and cultural ties among the multiethnic communities of Asia.

Some 300 writers and poets participated in the three-day forum from Sept 4 to 6, which was organised by the Writers Union of Kazakhstan.

Writers Union of Kazakhstan chairman Ulyqbek Esdaulet said literature is one of the strongest unifying factors in the region, irrespective of race or religion. 

“Despite the differences in language and culture, literature can foster unity. It is also seen as an opportunity to understand one another,” he said on the sidelines of the forum.



South Korean poet Ko Un said literature serves as a reflection of reality and is also the foundation of a nation’s cultures, beliefs and traditions. 

It is crucial for a writer to preserve those elements in their literary works and make efforts to translate them to other languages to reach a wider audience. 

“To strengthen the interaction between the literary communities of Asian countries, we need to make a huge effort in translating our poetry into English as well as into other languages. 

“However the shape or nature of poetry in Asian countries differs from European and American poetry. So it is very important that we build and maintain our tradition,” he said, speaking through a translator.

Meanwhile, Indian writer Amar Mitra said translations of literary works could act as a bridge to connect parties that are unable to communicate. 

He said translators should put their utmost priority to staying faithful to the original work by creating something distinctive and unique that would evoke the same feelings and responses as the original.

“Translation is tough and challenging, especially when it comes to translating poetry. However, it is hugely important in our modern society to promote the sharing of literature between countries.

“Asia needs a comprehensive project to translate as much literature as possible into as many languages as possible. Today, I don't know your literature because it has not reached me through my language. Neither has my work reached you," he told the forum.  



Filipino writer Aldrin P. Pentero believed the region needs its own electronic library or online community to facilitate the sharing of literary works among writers across the region.

“An electronic library allows writers to publish their works through the Internet and this digital content sharing will enhance the works of our writers. It can also be accessed anytime and anywhere by anyone.

“Apart from that, we can use this online community to connect more with each other and support the literary works that we have produced,” he added. 

Vietnamese writer Kieu Bich Hau suggested that an institute of Asian literary studies be established to enable comparative literature students from all over the world to come together to study the beauty of Asian literature. 

“I feel there is a great possibility for the development of such an initiative. If I want to study Azerbaijan poetry and compare it with Vietnamese poetry, it can be done through the institute and it would benefit the world of Asian literature," she said. 

She also urged Asian writers to come up with an exchange programme where writers can visit each other's countries to learn more about their literary traditions.



Malaysian laureate Prof Emeritus Dr Muhammad Salleh, meanwhile, said for literature to develop further in Asia, it should be included in the education curriculum.

“I've been worried about the place of literature in the world. In the past, literature was an important part of the curriculum. This is somehow not happening now.

“With the coming of technology, literature was put aside to a place of low importance in some countries. A country that doesn't have literature in its curriculum would be a country that is very short-sighted and I don't think it is possible to achieve civilisation with science and technology alone," he added. 


Edited by Rema Nambiar





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