The Khmer Literature Festival is set to return for its 6th edition next month, marking a continuation of its mission to celebrate Cambodia’s literary arts.

This year’s literary extravaganza promises to be a celebration of Cambodia’s vibrant literary heritage and a platform for the voices that often go unnoticed in the world of literature.

The theme is “Invisible Voices,” shedding light on often-overlooked narratives within Cambodian literature.

“’Invisible Voices’ could be a natural sound, a human, an animal, or anything else that comes from artists’ imagination, or it may be their own voice that has never been heard or heard, but no one hears or pays attention. Now is the time for them to make that sound,” explained a press release.

The festival, which has grown in stature since its inception in 2017, will take place from October 20 to 22, 2023, at the Koh Kong Provincial Hall.

Established with the vision of promoting and uplifting the country’s literary landscape, the event has three main objectives.

It seeks to create dynamic literary platforms for Cambodian audiences, enhance the value and recognition of writers in an evolving society, and broaden opportunities, networks, and markets for local writers and publishers.

Hout Socheata, a founder and a member of the festival’s advisory Board, expressed her pride in contributing to Cambodia’s literary industry.

“I am proud to be a drop of water in the pool of the literature industry in Cambodia,” she said.

En Sormanak, head of programmes, who is participating in the festival for the second year, highlighted the transformative experiences offered by the event.

“I have been mesmerised by the participation of writers, poets, literature enthusiasts, teachers, and students in the past years who enjoyed many new experiences from the programme,” he said.

“Therefore, I hope to see you all join to gain new experiences and knowledge and support Khmer literary arts,” he added.

The festival is honoured to have Mong Minith, a distinguished writer, singer, and songwriter, as its goodwill ambassador for the 2023 edition.

Minith expressed his happiness in being part of the festival and his commitment to promoting literary arts and literacy.

“My participation will hopefully help to attract public attention and support the development of the literary arts, and literacy, and distribute the masterpieces of our writers and poets, in order to connect the spirit of our readers and Cambodian citizens to the potential of Khmer literature,” he said.

The 6th Khmer Literature Festival will span three days and features a diverse range of special programmes.

Attendees can look forward to an exhibition of Khmer masterpieces, creative writing workshops, cultural tours, panel discussions and keynote presentations on the cultural literature of Koh Kong, poetry readings, documentary screenings, writing competitions, and several performances including cultural dances, songs, and chapei dang veng.

Khmer literature, despite its tragic history under the Khmer Rouge regime, is experiencing a revival, with expanding writing opportunities and a flourishing publishing industry.

The Khmer Literature Festival, initiated by author So Phina in 2017, aims to promote Cambodian literature and honour of Khmer authors. It also seeks to foster connections within the industry.

The 5th Khmer Literature Festival in 2022 took place in Pursat province in October. It focused on cultivating a love for local literature, honouring Khmer writers, and facilitating networking among authors, readers, and publishers.

The event highlights the importance of literature in the country’s development and aims to attract young people to arts and culture by hosting the festival in one of Cambodia’s provinces.

The festival included performances, exhibitions of cover art from pre-1975 Khmer novels, book sales, and workshops featuring both veteran and new writers.

Tim Many, a respected veteran writer, highlighted the festival’s role in educating the younger generation about writing and literature’s value. The festival has grown in popularity over the years, benefiting from increased media awareness and cooperation, although it was held online in 2021 due to the pandemic.

The festival has been held in different locations across Cambodia, including Siem Reap and Pursat.

The festival is made possible with the support of the Cambodian Writer Community, various literature associations, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and numerous generous donors and supporters.