Friday, 7 June 2013


Oh, the things they did to publicise the Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013 at The Bee, Publika that Tuesday evening...

#Word: Thematic flavours from The Last Polka

Free ice cream is fine. The Last Polka created two lit-inspired flavours for the event: Green Eggs and Ham (a minty creation with chocolate fudge pieces that brings to mind The Cat in the Hat) and Wonderland (a peppery tribute to the soup in a certain kitchen).

Pop-trivia quizzes are fine too, even though some of the questions were hard for non-bookworms and non-moviegoers.

Readings? No problem - except if it's three grown men reading sex scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey. Especially when the three men are Ezra Zaid, Umapagan Ampikaipakan and Sharaad Kuttan.

Once you hear Ezra channel Anastasia Steele losing her virginity, you will never be the same.

I think they found it painful as well, given what we know of the trio. By the time they read the third scene, they were hiding their chagrin in foreign accents. Who knew Sharaad preferred Italian?

And what is it about this festival that inspired the creation of two far-out ice cream flavours and compelled these three fellows to go onstage and read fiction I'm sure they'd rather burn?

Wordy weekend
The inaugural Cooler Lumpur Festival is a multi-disciplinary "celebration of culture".
Curated by digital media purveyor PopDigital, this KL-centric festival will adopt certain themes each year to "expand the city’s cultural horizons, build stronger communities and cultivate the creativity and imagination of people."

#Word: The Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013

This year, the Festival presents #Word, Malaysia’s first – and only – celebration of words in all its forms. Expect workshops, talks and panel discussions, storytelling and readings - everything about the written word. #Word will also host the only Southeast Asian segment of the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference (EWWC), the world's largest travelling conference on the state of literature.

#Word will take place from Friday, 21 June to Sunday, 23 June, at several venues in Publika, Solaris Dutamas.

Gems in the mud
The online programme is a menu of lip-smacking items with something for wordsmiths of almost every stripe. Among the highlights are:

  • A panel featuring non-Malay writers who write in BM, and a panel on Asian Noir, which will see writers such as Shamini Flint, Brian Gomez and Rozlan Mohd Noor.
  • A book swap by the charity Novels for All.
  • An Evening with the Evening Edition, where you can meet the faces behind the famous BFM drive-home segment: HRH Caroline Oh, Ezra Zaid and Umapagan Ampikaipakan.
  • A one-on-one with Amir Muhammad, writer and indie publisher and filmmaker (considering his success, does the 'indie' label apply?). Two titles from his imprints, Fixi and Fixi Novo, will be launched as well during the festival.
  • Readings @ The Bee (not Seksan's), and a screening of ghost movies, followed by ghost stories told by Patrick Teoh and Jo Kukathas.
  • Borders Malaysia will be organising #Word Junior for kids, with a line-up of activities that includes a tea party with free ice cream (first 50 kids only) from The Last Polka, storytelling sessions and interactive events.

Crabbit Old Bat flying into KL
I'm embarrassed to say that I've only heard of one writer in the international line-up for #Word.

Jen Campbell, a bookseller at Ripping Yarns in the UK and author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops and More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops had this URL in her blog to the blog of a "Crabbit Old Bat". Couldn't resist clicking the link.

That's how I heard about Nicola Morgan, award-winning writer, author of about 90(!) books, and an authority on young adult/teen fiction. Among other things, she will be holding a workshop on writing for teens. Places are limited, so please hurry.

As someone who's evaluated and rejected a number of children's/YA/teen fiction submissions, I'm glad she's coming here.

...Oh, my. Seems Ms Morgan's a bit nervous about her trip. This will be her first time in Malaysia. Let's make her feel welcome, shall we?

So come on down to MAP @ Publika for a wonderfully wordy weekend. Don't let all that ice cream, the efforts of las dos chicas from The Last Polka and the sacrifice of BFM's les trois garçons be in vain. The two ice cream flavours will be available at The Bee @ Publika throughout this month, in conjunction with #Word.

Go here for more details.

11/06/2013  Here's a BFM podcast with Yau Su Peng, Chief Operating Officer of Borders Malaysia, the Festival's official bookstore.

18/06/2013  Check out the radio podcast of an interview with several key Festival people. Seems that "Cooler Lumpur" does not merely hint at the proliferation of hipster hangouts in the capital, but also the mispronunciation of KL by the beer-swilling character Nabby Adams in Anthony Burgess's The Malayan Trilogy.


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