The fears of Luluai Tsike
Something fishy about MRDC deal

A soul in need of nurture

Marlene Potoura cropped
Marlene Potoura

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Marlene Dee Grey Potoura is a very talented writer. Whether her stories and books are aimed at adults or children they invariably land in exactly the right spot.

She can write about tragedy with deep feeling and about humour with a whimsical mischievousness. In short she is an accomplished and skilful writer.

However, like many writers the world over she is handicapped by the realities of her trade. Success as a writer unfortunately depends upon commercial opportunities.

In Papua New Guinea the existence of such opportunities is effectively zero.

In Australia the average annual income of a writer is about AU$12,900. When you take into account the outlays required to make that piddling amount it doesn't even add up to a fair rate of pocket money.

No one has calculated the average annual income of a writer in Papua New Guinea but I would guess that if they did it would be a negative amount.

In Australia a few writers who don't achieve economic success nevertheless enjoy a degree of critical success. Their books are read by people who appreciate fine literature.

Critical success is a fine offset to commercial success, which often tends to be of poor literary quality.

Many of Australia's most famous writers struggled throughout their lives and often died in poverty but they at least had the satisfaction of knowing that people were reading their books.

In Papua New Guinea there is not even the attraction of critical success to spur writers on.

Literature in Papua New Guinea does not even rate a mention in the pantheon of success. Success in Papua New Guinea is almost wholly predicated on the accumulation of wealth.

Writers stand no chance in such a predatory environment.

Marlene, like many Papua New Guinean writers, started out with great expectations.

She was hopeful of making a few kina out of her books and stories but if that wasn't possible she was prepared to simply accept some form of critical appreciation.

Neither of those things happened. She didn't make any money and apart from a small coterie of fans received little recognition for her work.

And yet she continued to write, just like so many other Papua New Guinean writers continue to write. Marlene and those other writers all now know through bitter experience that their love of writing will bring them no rewards, monetary or otherwise.

Their motivations are many and complex but are driven firstly by a love of literature and secondly by the knowledge that if they don't do it no one else will.

In all their stricken circumstances they represent the soul of Papua New Guinea.

It is a soul that is in dire need of nurture.

Comments

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Daniel Kumbon

Good summary Phil.

PNG won't be as it is today in the future. Good men will be in charge some day. The literacy rate of the country will improve. Some people will definitely hate staring at computer screens which damage their eyesight.

We know the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt. But the Word - The Holy Bible - has remained for all mankind to draw sustenance from.

Our work may not compare with the inspired Word of God inscribed by writers like ourselves but some of us certainly know writing is a talent. a skill - a gift from God.

Some of us must keep writing to make full use of this gift.

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