For years I’ve wondered why our literature was merely limited to stories of folklore, tradition and culture. In spite of the rich political history of this little island, you will find it rather hard to find any piece of fiction that tackles the many crucial periods that Bahrianis have had to go through.
Perhaps the only such period that has been touched upon, mostly in our books and silverscreen, is the time of British colonialism.
After the Earthquake: by Martina Newberry, Poems 1996-2006, 159 pp, Xlibris, 2007 In spite of what arriviste critics tell us, good, even great writers are lost in the cracks in every generation, and we must always ask ourselves if we have chosen to be a society too smug to indulge such a humble notion. It is for this reason alarming to see literary agents, editors and critics take refuge in the self-serving lie that what deserves to be published is published.
But as the means to publish expand and new technologies evolve, the critical apparatus is unable and unwilling to keep up. Many good works are ignored. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said of critics that they reflect the ignorance of the age. I find this amusingly harsh. I owe much to critics for directing me to worthy books. But the odor of truth lingers about Shelley's observation.
There are some writers in every genre—I would extend this to the plastic arts—who by nature touch so many raw nerves that even when editors and critics see merit in their work they decline the work because it has nicked them in some vulnerable place. With luck, such writers and artists may find the one advocate whose commitment to creativity surpasses his or her vulnerability to disturbing insights.
Almost twenty years ago, during filming for Earthwatch on ABC TV, I stood knee-deep in water in a semi-submerged office constructed 20 metres offshore at Williamstown near Melbourne.
The point of the exercise? To drive home in a graphic – if deliberately tongue-in-cheek way – the seriousness of possible implications of global warming.