I’VE just left the Sunshine Coast international readers and writers festival at Coolum Beach and am still reeling from the experience of sitting on a panel with three of the most intelligent and articulate women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time.
To put it mildly they did Papua New Guinean women and Papua New Guinean literature proud – I can’t think of any better ambassadors.
Rashmii Bell was cool and collected, chairing our session. Helen Anderson, a sage commentator, and present despite a dodgy hip. And the delightful and funny Vanessa Gordon.
In the mainly female audience were other Papua New Guinean women offering support.
My head is reeling because I heard so many unique ideas and points of view.
It was a refreshing experience and something that should be replicated elsewhere, particularly in Papua New Guinea.
I heard about the continuing problems of writers in Papua New Guinea, both male and female. Most of them I’d heard before but there were a few new ones too.
Inevitably the question of the lack of government support for literature came up.
A couple of people from the audience suggested we give up on the O’Neill government, which has resolutely ignored our pleas for years, and concentrate on lobbying a couple of selected members who might further literature’s cause.
I thought about this while driving back to the nearby town where my wife and I are staying.
I think Papua New Guinean writers should appoint their own minister and shadow minister for literature. If O’Neill won’t do it; they should do it themselves.
I’d like to nominate the new member for Goroka Open, Henry Ame, as minister for literature.
Henry is a successful businessman in the coffee game and will be lobbying for growers but there’s no reason why he can’t take on literature too.
Besides, I know Henry’s business partner, and can rely on him to make sure the minister is apprised of the situation.
For shadow minister I’d nominate Oro governor Gary Juffa. Gary is not everyone’s cup of tea but he is a writer and a renowned mover and shaker.
What do you reckon?
If the idea appeals please feel free to nominate your preferred choice. There can be a runoff vote perhaps?