The Power of Stories: Reflections on the IBBY Congress 2022 – part 1

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Blog

Evelyn Arizpe
Evelyn Arizpe

Dr Muhammed Haji Salleh, Emeritus Professor and winner of the National Literary Award in Malaysia sharing the art of Pantun.

An Orchard of Art and Literature

As anyone who has attended an IBBY Congress before will know, there’s a certain buzz in the air when book people from around the world come together in the same room. Librarians, teachers, academics, illustrators, authors, publishers and reading promotors – anyone who believes in the #thepowerofstories – the theme of this year’s congress in Putrajaya.

In the city of Putrajaya, hundreds of international participants gathered at the Kompleks Perbadanan. We were welcomed by the incumbent IBBY President Mingzhou Zhang and MBBY President Redza Ahmad Khairuddin followed by a delightful storytelling performance.

Our first keynote speaker, Dr Muhammed Haji Salleh, Emeritus Professor and winner of the National Literary Award in Malaysia, shared the art of Pantun – a form of Malay poetry – which consists of four short lines rhyming alternately by which the thought is expressed by comparison or allusion.

“The pantun connects disparate symbols, images and sounds of our environment and life, and gathers them in a small but exceptionally meaningful space. The most handsome flower in the garden of the Nusantara people nurtured in the orchard of art.”

This seems like an appropriate and beautiful description, not only of the pantun and literature, but of the congress itself, with many disparate yet nurtured views coming together as part of the same orchard.

For more information:

  • All recordings of plenary session presentations, including opening and closing ceremonies, as well as gala dinner and award presentation ceremonies have been uploaded on the MBBY YouTube Channel. You can view sessions you may have missed, and revisit those you wish to see again. These can be accessed here.
  • The virtual exhibition in conjunction with the Congress has been extended and you can re-visit the platform here: Power of Stories Virtual Exhibition – IBBY Congress 2022.
  • Visit the congress website:

Sophie Hallam attended the 38th IBBY World Congress in Putrajaya, Malaysia, from 4-9 September. In this series of blogs, she shares her experience at the congress and reflections on her final term on IBBY’s Executive Committee (EC), after serving two consecutive terms.