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Poetry should be elevated in PNG schools, says top writer

KEITH JACKSON

MICHAEL DOM, ONE OF Papua New Guinea’s most eminent poets and winner of the 2012 Crocodile Prize for Poetry, says educationists should ensure poetry becomes a serious part of the PNG school curriculum.

In an essay, Poetry as an educational tool, to be published in PNG Attitude tomorrow, Michael Dom writes that PNG, with over 800 languages and a predominantly oral tradition, should be able to generate a significant amount of poetry and literature.

“We still have not even bothered to scratch the surface of this pool of traditional knowledge,” he says.

“This is one of the reasons why the Crocodile Prize, PNG Attitude and the Anthologies of PNG writing are such a great leap forward in sharing and promoting PNG literature.

“It’s our own stuff!

“Literature exists in many written languages but poetry is found in every language known to mankind, because it is primarily an aural tradition, it is meant to be recited to an audience.

“PNG’s languages are a precious gift from our ancestors,” he says. “Speaking those languages is a privilege, for it is the language in which our forbearers communicated their thoughts and emotions, and defined the lives that they came to lead, enabling them to survive for millennia.”

Michael Dom says appreciation of poetry adds quality to a person’s life – “for poetry is of the soul”.

“Reading and writing poetry is an expression of our fundamental beliefs and desires and our experiences in life.

“As such a precious gift, I believe it is neither appropriate nor practicable, nor even preferable, to leave the responsibility of maintaining these ancient languages in the hands of the government education system of the day.

“It is a fundamental responsibility of all the people of particular language group to encourage and foster the continuation of their language, through the arts and cultural activities they organise for themselves.”

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