Freedom to Dream: Inaugural Session

By Jules Marie, Official ZEE JLF@Boulder Blogger

Freedom to Dream is the theme of the third annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in Boulder, Colorado. The inaugural session of the internationally-acclaimed literature festival opened with sacred chanting by Gaden Shartse Monks followed by inspiring remarks from festival directors and producers. Distinguished, contemporary authors from around the world gather at ZEE JLF to engage in provocative dialogue about complex and diverse topics including migrating, poets, American dreams, globalism, nationalism, climate control, feminism, ancestral cultures and more.

“This is our third year in Boulder, Colorado and it is absolutely essential and vital to have platforms where we can all listen to some of the great minds—not for the sake of entertaining us but to imagine for us another world, another people, another history, another philosophy,” said Festival Producer Sanjoy K. Roy. “Our festival directors have an incredible program of writers and speakers you’ll enjoy and we hope you’ll take away some of their key points and ideas.”

“A book is read in solitude and in festivals like this it comes alive in many different dimensions and this is one of the most special things about literary festivals,” added Festival Co-director Namita Gokhale. Writers meet and share their common concerns and languages. Here we have writers coming from around the world and they all link up. It’s contrary that the more local I become the more global I become. ZEE JLF has restored my faith about the global nature of literature, about understanding our human narratives as a species and as a planet, about understanding our shared stories.”

India Celebrates Independence
“It’s a commonplace in journalism that the space in the world for serious writing and serious journalism is shrinking,” said Festival Co-director William Dalrymple. This festival stands as a wonderful counter punch. We’ve grown from 14 people 10 years ago to this enormous Woodstock or Glastonbury of the mind—we’ve reached a third of a million people. And it’s completely free. It allows us to put the greatest minds in the world, the Nobel and Pulitzer and Academy winners, the great notaries of journalism and writing and screenwriting and drama across the world and on the stage for free and anyone can turn up and listen.”

His Excellency Navtej Sarna, India’s Ambassador to the United States, extolled the benefits of the growing interest in literature given. “This is India’s 70th year of independence. We have come a long way. Where we once had few writers, we now have many and the journey of our literature’s outreach to the world is one of the most significant aspects of this journey as Indian writing has now been brought to the world. India is now a literary destination and a reading destination and the Jaipur Literature Festival has led this growth.”

U.S. Representative for Colorado Jared Polis welcomed attendees to the Festival and thanked the distinguished presenters for attending. “Events of JLF remind us of the role of great thinkers. Literature allows for the spread of ideas that bring us together, that unite us, something that in today’s world is too often lacking. We’ve seen the uptick in hostility towards journalists, writers and members of the press. It’s conferences like this that are part of the antidote,” he said.

“We hope this is the third of 100 festivals. If you haven’t travelled to India, I encourage you to go. It’s a country of people so deep and rich with history and magic, where every stone tells a story, where every family tells a story of 100 generations. We don’t have that long-term mystery and the magic that’s around every street corner in India that many authors there give life and breath to with their remarkable words,” added Polis.

Literature Festival Nurtures Dreamers
“The world’s finest writers are now at one of the largest literature festivals in the world,” said Sunil Buch, CEO of ZEE Entertainment. “I want to share with people who want to dream about making this place a better place to live that there are ways. This festival is about great writing and this is the mecca of literature right here. We need to be educated, enlightened and aware.”

ZEE JLF’s venue-partner—the Boulder Public Library—encouraged the public to attend all sessions over the three-day weekend. Vice-Chair of the Library Commission Joni Teter welcomed the presenters and audience with encouragement to keep events such as JLF alive.

“Public libraries are essential to our democracy and to our sense of community and even more essential now than they have ever been. Public libraries are places where everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter who you are, your age, gender, ethnicity, background … everyone is welcome and it’s one of the last civic institutions where people from all classes and background mingle so it’s essential to keep libraries open. This festival is about coming together and talking with one another, creating things, and leaving with a broader, bigger understanding of ourselves and the world. This is a wonderful partnership for us and we hope to continue hosting this in the future.”

Jesse Friedman, the Executive Director of ZEE JLF at Boulder, said, “ZEE JLF has inspired over 200 literature festivals around the world. What motivates this insurgence of gathering over literature? I believe it’s the heights and depths of our own humanity. We’re craving that and celebrating that and then something moving happens. Platforms like this engender humanity and allow for empathy to find a space in people hearts and minds. It’s a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time, and conjure a story that affects and alters us.”

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