Komura Book Fair: When Women Write About the Female Experience

Image from Komura

It’s the best time to tell your story as a woman.

When the word “content” was a little-known term and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had yet to unleash a malignant form of governance, most of us had limited access to tools and audiences. Maybe you wrote a blog. Maybe you managed to get a story in on your school paper. Maybe your short story made it to the Palanca Awards.

Wherever your ideas landed and sought freedom, the point back then was to write. To put pen to paper, or tap finger to keyboard, and make an entirely made up world and a slew of characters step out of your mind and into the consciousness of others.

That’s all changed today.

Image from Komura

The internet has given way to platforms that allow writers to reach audiences without the need for traditional publishers. Some have even made an obscenely lucrative start by self-publishing , like EL James, whose “Fifty Shades of Grey” began as an erotic fan fiction of “Twilight.”

In our corner of the world, we have more than just online platforms and fan-fiction sites. We have access to small press fairs, like Komura.

Indie Publisher

Image from Komura

The book fair’s name is inspired by Komura Memorial Library from Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore.” It’s not your usual book fair where merchants spread out their merchandise, from ‘zines and old books to stickers and prints, and they leave it at that. At Komura, you experience the different stories of the creators beyond the printed word and the sketched images.

Organizers Kayla Dionisio and Czyka Tumaliuan came up with the literary event as a way to bolster an “honest exchange of curiosities and playful explorations of stortytelling in tech and print.”

Visitors tried out new games. They watched short films. They listened to spoken word and music.

They got an AI-generated poem in Filipino.

Indie female game developers introduce visitors to new games
Image from Komura

This year, though, Komura focused the spotlight on women (and creators who identify as women). And so what visitors got were ideas and stories by women. Because only we know the female experience that men (most) can’t ever see or ever write about.

Indeed, you only need to rewatch Season 8 of “Game of Thrones” to realize this (if you haven’t already).

What’s on Her Mind?

The Mallorca Collective table. At Komura, readers are eager to learn about your stories; they ask what your ‘zine’s about or what made you write the story
Image from Komura

So what stories are women telling these days? What ideas are we putting to the readers?

The short of it? It varies.

Some created unusual characters, others wrote poetry. Most had short stories, with speculative fiction ranging from ghost stories to weird fiction. Somewhere in between, the poets (Louise Meets and Abby Orbeta) and musicians (Coeli and Toni B.) covered love in all its ugliness and beauty, and body positivity.

On film, the creators highlighted mental health, odd encounters, and dreams.

Overall, there was a rich and dynamic mix of stories — in all forms of media.

There was inspiration in the air, beats in the background, and alcohol in our systems. Really. Just your average day in the life of a writer. Or at least, how we all hope our days would turn out.

And someone finally enlightened us on the right words to use for things we can’t ever name
Photo by writer

In an era when we have all the resources to make our voices heard and the courage to say what needs to be said, press fairs like Komura allow us to no longer be unread writers and unknown creators.

It is the best time to tell your story as a woman.

The Scene

And because no amount of words might describe how the Komura experience went, here are images to distract you from the fact that I’ve run out of words.

Gyoza Zaragoza’s Kat Tankeh and Chandral Selim
Photo by writer

Soyen Writes attracted a mix of people, some wanting to get her autograph on her “Mid-September Letters,” others wanting shirts
Image from Komura

Female-centric bookstore Written By sold books by women on women
Image from Komura

Artists with their prints, stickers, and other such creations at the cozy Playground section
Image from Komura

Guess which one’s going to rule the world someday
Image from Komura

Komura screened three short films that day
Image from Komura

An excerpt from one of the AI-generated poems: “Magkakaroon ka ng damdaming tumutunghay sa aking hardin/Magtatagumpay ang iyong mga salita tungkol sa pagkapanatag.”
Image from Komura

There was not a shortage of interesting bits and pieces at this book fair
Image from Komura

Komura offered the perfect escape from the usual weekend hangouts
Image from Komura

Press fairs like Komura allow you to introduce your kid to local literature, and encourage them to aspire to tell stories of their own
Image from Komura

About The Author

Joy isn't too crazy about getting her photo taken. But she is wild about animals, which is why she's vegan, and has been for nearly 20 years. She's done a wide range of stories for magazines, from music and movies shenanigans to business and culture matters. She continues to write professionally to this day — like, right this very minute.

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