For the first time since 2019, Jaipur Literature Festival Colorado will resume in-person events at Boulder Public Library this weekend.
After the pandemic forced the international celebration of the written word to pivot to an online offering, organizers are ecstatic to once again be welcoming attendees and speakers back for inspired talks, activities and more.
“The greatest literary show on earth” kicks off Friday, with the Colorado premiere of the documentary “AHIMSA Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless” at eTown Hall in Boulder.
The film, spotlighting Gandhi’s legacy and the impact his message had on the practice of nonviolence worldwide, will open with a speech by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Tickets to the opening gala film screening, that will take place at 7:30 p.m, are $80. Included in the price is an Indian-inspired dinner, with cocktails, starting at 6 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, bibliophiles can revel in captivating discussions from renowned authors, readings, live music and participate in a variety of workshops from poetry to sing-alongs.
While the festival is free, donations — that can be made online when registering— are encouraged.
We caught up with Jessie Friedman, JLF Colorado’s executive director, to find out what it’s like to see the festival come back at full strength, what must-sees she recommends attendees seek out and what she hopes for the festival’s future.
Kalene McCort: How does it feel to finally be returning to an in-person format, and what are you most looking forward to about welcoming back guests and writers?
Jessie Friedman: It feels exhilarating, moving and joyous to return in person with JLF Colorado, to the beautiful Boulder Public Library and to Colorado. We look forward to richness of interpersonal, in-person conversations that share knowledge and culture, to the communal feeling and shared hearts to the diversity and to the excitement of interacting with truly brilliant writers.
KM: Looking over this year’s festival lineup, the array and caliber of speakers is quite impressive. Are there any that you are particularly excited about and would consider not-to-be-missed?
JF: Oh my goodness, there are so many must-sees. First of all, to start the day audiences will not want to miss morning music on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, Colorado Fine Arts Association presents Anupama Bhagwat, virtuoso sitar master, and Sunday morning we have the Elisa Garcia quartet with her gorgeous voice and alluring Latin American folk songs.
Then we have Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Saturday morning speaking about his book “Scorching Love, Gandhi’s Letters to his Son, Devdas”— a rare look at the personal, intimate side of Gandhi.
We have André Aciman, extraordinary writer born in Alexandria, Egypt, author of “Out of Egypt,” “Call Me by Your Name” and “Find me” with his new book of essays “Homo Irrealis.”
We have Daisy Rockwell who translated this year’s Booker prize novel “Tomb of Sand,” the very popular Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Sarfraz Mansoor with “Greetings From Bury Park,” a hymn to his late father and to the other great hero in his life — Bruce Springsteen— adapted into film as “Blinded By The Light,” which was screened this past Sunday at The Dairy Arts Center’s Boedecker Theater.
I am very excited about a five-session series on peacebuilding created by the Boulder Rotary Club Peacebuilding Committee as well as sessions of diverse local writers in collaboration with the nonprofit The Word: A Storytelling Sanctuary, highly awarded mystery writers David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Manuel Ramos and Ausma Khan, our State of Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre, and past and present Poet Laureates of Aurora, Colo., Jovan Mays and Ahja Fox.
William Dalrymple — renowned historian, fantastic presenter — closes the festival on Sunday afternoon.
KM: Love that the festival kicks off each morning with music. Why was this an important element to weave in, and how did you go about selecting the acts?
JF: Morning music is an integral piece of our festival, setting the thoughtful mood with beauty, touching and opening our hearts to the day and the conversations ahead.
KM: What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of bringing such a diverse and layered event to the Boulder community?
JF: Bringing an international cultural treasure to Boulder, one that is founded and based upon diversity, one that reminds us of the best of humanity while it brings us into further understanding of differing world views, and one that brings a truly diverse audience to Boulder is among the most rewarding projects that I’ve ever had the honor of participating in.
KM: Now that you are back on track with in-person events, what goals or plans do you have for JLF 2023?
JF: To keep bringing great artistry, great depth, great diversity, great knowledge and meaning to the audience. And another primary goal is to expand our free writing and creativity outreach programs serving marginalized, at-risk youth and elders in the Metro Area.