Mixing past and present in Papua New Guinea
A poet’s journey 1: How to behave in poetry

My Crocodile Prize story: So nice are these writing people


Australian novelist Drusillla Modjeska; PNG writer Regina Dorum; Society of Writers president Amanda DonigiI HAVE A DREAM and I am running after it at all costs. I am following it closely to improve the craft I am loving so much.

In the middle of this month I attended this year’s PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers’ event in Port Moresby.

I wanted to meet established Papua New Guinean and Australian authors and listen to their inspirational words to help me improve in my writing.

Interestingly, this great Crocodile Prize competition is supported by the Australian High Commission but not the PNG government.

For me, the worst thing is my tight-lipped culture. I never freely utter a word in the midst of people I am not familiar with unless told to do so by someone in authority or the chair of the meeting.

I silently hate myself for this. And this is exactly what I did at the Annual General Meeting and Writers’ Forum.

I uttered not a word! Not at all a social being, I guess.

But from my perfect world I met great writing men and women from all over Papua New Guinea. Men and women who know me as I know them only by name and not physically.

Old man of literature, author Russell SoabaI was proud to be in the company of authors like Russell Soaba and Francis Nii; bloggers Nou Vada, Martyn Namorong and Emmanuel Narakobi; and Australian writer and big time Crocodile Prize editor, Phil Fitzpatrick. Our Keith Jackson was not present.

Whilst in the midst of Australians and other Papua New Guineans with the common interest that is literature, spills did reached my wriggling ears that the high walking Papua New Guinean employees of the Australian High Commission had plastered lips.

They were to utter no word pressing Australian national interest or they would be fired, a  fellow Highlander whispered to me as a local girl passed us, poking the concrete with high-heels.

But there we were, Australians and Papua New Guineans, sisters and brothers in the name of the ink or, in this age, the keyboard.

Lunch with a writing family that I am missing greatlyPolitics does not come into play in our part of the world; or it is suppressed somewhere.

So cool was I in a perfect world of writers.

More than anything else, I did sell off to my fellow men and women who I was in character or attitude.

Many threw a light on that. ‘Mr LFR,’ they said, ‘reading you and your world we thought you were somewhat a physically an imposing being. But you are really a small man with a big mouth…’ Ha ha!

Photos: Jimmy Drekore


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Zenitram Dee

I wish I was there during the event. But thanks for that article which has dran some inspiration.

Leonard Roka

Thanks, Keith, for further grooming this gossip and re-publishing it.

In fact, even without participating in any talking at Port Moresby, my spirit was dancing in joy.

I wept, why did not I grow up earlier in the midst of such people playing around with words... But, here I am and it is not that late to pen and leave behind an impact before I die.

But one thing that bothers me is that the majority of my people in Bougainville are not accessing PNG Attitde and my rascal blog, Leonard Fong Roka.

But, they will since I have a will.

Thanks all and good night.

Joe Wasia

Great piece there Leonard. It's very interesting to read your articles on this site. I know you have a big heart there.

Keep writing and commenting. There is no place like PNG Attitude.

Bernard Yegiora

I like the last photo where you are seated at the head of the table with Phil and I sitting close to you.

I guess the event was a catalyst for you in terms of writing because after that you have dominated this blog with your articles about your island home.

Using the phrase island home reminds me of Christine Anu's song 'My Island Home'.

The event was also a new experience for me and your article reminds me of myself some years ago. I didn't really like talking because I didn't know what to say to people.

But over the years I realize that a life in academia was the uncontrollable direction I was heading. Thus, I needed to improve my public speaking and relations skills.

I am no guru but still a student learning from others and happy to say something whenever I get the opportunity.

Anyway, keep writing and I hope next September we will see the new LFR in action.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)