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Low Pay, High Risk, Some Reward: Writer

Kho Tararith, is currently enrolled in a one-year fellowship at Brown University, in Providence, R.I.
Kho Tararith, is currently enrolled in a one-year fellowship at Brown University, in Providence, R.I.

Kho Tararith, a writer, says there is little that will stop him from expressing his thoughts in the written word.

In Cambodia, he told “Hello VOA” Thursday, the freedom to write is limited, while some people write even though it threatens their life.

“They think that to write is to put their life in the line of danger, but I have a different opinion,” he said. “There are many people who have done bad things, and they are not afraid. But why do I have to be afraid of just writing what is really happening?”

A native of Oddar Meanchey province and currently a writing fellow at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., Kho Tararith has dedicated much of his time to helping writers.

He is the founder of PEN Cambodia, part of a worldwide organiation that supports writers under political pressure. He is also the founder of the Cambodian chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People, which promotes international understanding through children’s books.

He has written more than 200 poems and a number of short stories, including “Red Print” and “Regretful.” He has published a book of poetry called, “Lesson of Life.”

When he was young, he said as a guest on “Hello VOA,” he had little access to information. But by listening to radio broadcasts, including Voice of America, he began to understand social issues impacting Cambodia.

That in turn kindled his love of writing, in which he explores those issues without an expectation of making any money. He has profited little from his work, he said, while facing many difficulties. But he said he want to raise social issues that many writers are afraid to raise.

Writing is one of the best ways to educate people, he said, offering a Cambodian fable as an example. The story, “A Lady and a Rabbit,” is about a hungry rabbit who plays dead so that a woman will put him among a basket of bananas she carries on her head. Once he has eaten all the bananas, the rabbit jumps from the basket and disappears into the forest.

Kho Tararith said politicians are as tricky as that rabbit, so voters must be smart when electing officials. Kho Tararith’s writing is available at