Saturday, October 18, 2008

We don't know how lucky we are... in Godzone, where writers can do what they do without fear of persecution, imprisonment and even death. The worst thing I have to fear in my writing career is being trashed by a reviewer, but for many writers fear is a way of life.

Dunedin writer Penelope Todd wrote a very thoughtful opinion piece for the Otago Daily Times on the plight of dissident writers in Myanmar :

Where writers work under fear of arrest.

Penelope met Hnin Se when they were both attending the Iowa International Writers Residency in 1997. The photograph, kindly supplied by Penelope, is of the two of them during their time there.

I recall Penelope talking of the friendships forged during her writers residencies when she was a guest speaker for our Otago Southland New Zealand Society of Authors Meeting. The realisation of the risk some of these writers faced every day made a big impression on her. You can look at the blog post I did from the meeting here.

This is all a good lead in to the recognition of Courage Day on the 15th of November which recognises and honours imprisoned and persecuted writers.

The New Zealand Society of Authors has organised the screening of a controversial new documentary An Independent Mind which features writers who are lauded for their expression of freedom of speech, as well as those seen as villains.

The Dunedin Screening, marking Courage Day is on Saturday November the 15th at 7.00pm in the Dunedin City Library. There will be more about that in future posts.

For now, I encourage you to read Penelope's article, and feel thankful for the liberties we take for granted.


Dave said...

"The worst thing I have to fear in my writing career is being trashed by a reviewer"

No, reviewers wouldn't do that, would they?

I mean, they're all a bunch of failed writers, right?

Vanda Symon said...

Of course they are, and some are so gentle with it.