Saturday, July 10, 2010
Writers in a Wasteland
Did I say poetry written by Steven Winduo, or the Anuki neighbour across the page with his weekly doses of Soaba’s Storyboard are fulfilling their basic social obligations to themselves, to their families, and their communities? One need not read the Constitution to understand what the basic social obligations are for every Papua New Guineans. Or should we?
I sacrificed six months of my salary to self-publish my poetry collection so that I can fulfill my basic social obligations to take initiative to make a living. I have sold a few copies of my book to the Michael Somare Library, the UPNG Bookstore, Theodist, and the National Library, but the rest are beginning to gather cobwebs in my study until such a time when Papua New Guineans have come to their senses that buying a book written by a Papua New Guinean is also a basic social obligation.
Whether they appreciate it or not I made it my business to give complimentary copies of my poetry book to NCD Governor, Honourable Powes Parkop, Honourable Charles Abel, Member for Alotau and Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Honourable James Marape, Member for Tari Pori and Minister of Education, and His Excellency Mr. Teddy Taylor, American Ambassador to PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
The trouble with being a self-published PNG writer is that the company one keeps always turns up as the very weak foundation needed to survive as an author. Writers can do well in Papua New Guinea if the principle of basic social obligations is observed by everyone when it comes to financially supporting writers to have their works published and sold.
The advice I would give to anyone thinking of writing books is that it is a long road to travel without the financial support of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and strange-bedfellows, all the more reason to find the company of a writers collective such as the ones organized by Lady Judith Bona, Nora Vagi Brash, Grace Maribu, and the Waigani Arts Centre in Port Moresby.