Imagining Our Worlds
Among the most unique events that make living in Colorado, a delight through the fall season is ZEE JLF at Boulder. Hailed as “the greatest literary show on Earth,” it earns this claim by bringing internationally accomplished authors to give talks and make presentations about what constitutes the most useful component in their work, and why it is relevant.
Their hope is that their work be not kept within them but shared worldwide. And so, producers of this Festival, with the fantastic success of Jaipur behind them, have branched out, connecting international authors, and opening up discussions in New York, Houston, and here in the forward-thinking and endlessly innovative navel of the United States: Boulder, Colorado.
This year marks the 4th anniversary of the Festival in Boulder; every year, this event has sharpened and broadened its scope by inviting authors who deal with transformational questions of all kinds. Call this the yoga of a literary kind, the spirit of this Festival is to uplift the world through literature and to recognize the greater gifts that these writers bring to the world in their understanding of it, and social transformation.
Even the Oxford English Dictionary is here discussed and acknowledged as a world document that is – despite herculean efforts – a work of global insight and importance.
The calendar for the festival, which includes more than 70 authors from around the world – and a number of local talents, span from the genres of poetry and biography to forensic criminology. Filling this vast context are also talks about life hacks, and simple living approaches, to global questions of about religion, ethnicity, social justice and climate change, and sustainability, politics, culture (and counter-culture), history, media, science and nature.
All of this comes together into a festival that, as Producer Sanjoy K. Roy says in the inaugural discussion, “centers around ‘learning’.”
Take this as an example of what makes the festival unique:
This year, Wade Davis, author of “The Serpent and The Rainbow,” discusses his new book, a biography — on the subject of George Mallory and his climbing of Mt. Everest.
Consensus is that Mount Everest has become a site for the regular mixing of cultures at an absolutely global level, and yet, playing host to the world, are the Nepalese people who have to endure all the paraphernalia of this globalization.
Davis’s book, “Into the Silence” dares to see the issues discussed, in this case around the first – if imperfectly recorded – Mallory Summit, from all sides and angles, including the role which the expedition played in the First World War.
Other authors presenting in the Festival are greeted in much the same way. The controversy of their subjects is taken down, one by one and processed into a new paradigm of sorts, but with an ancient way which fosters hospitality, sincerity, and a spirit of inclusion.
The one understated yet overwhelming aspect of ZEE JLF at Boulder is that this opportunity to engage with writers who are changing the global dialogue is completely free to the public and accessible to all.
There is no way to easily describe the unabashedly open feeling that this creates in the Boulder Library. As author and Festival Director Namita Gokhale says, “I know nothing in the world but a word, and when I look at it, it begins to shine.” This is the rare beautiful generosity that this event generates.
The word that I leave the Festival with is a Native American one: AHO!
Aho. How I look forward to this event every year!