Crocodile Man’s voice echoes through Simbu’s valleys
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The voice of Michael Dom: political, powerful, connected

O Arise! by Michael DomMARTYN NAMORONG

O Arise!: Poems on Papua New Guinea's Politics & Society by Michael Dom, 54 pp. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2015. ISBN-10: 1512039381. Available in hardcopy from Amazon, $5.40. Download it using the 'Free Michael Dom book' tab above

WHAT is a Papua New Guinean writer but a warrior continuing the proud traditions of their ancestors, firing arrows that defend the land but also feed the tribe.

I believe that is what the modern Papua New Guinean writer does. We defend the land of our ancestors and we also enrich the lives of our people with entertainment, information and ideas.

In continuing that fine tradition, Michael Dom writes with a spirit that connects many of us as we sometimes reflect on the world around us.

What is that spirit? I think it’s the voice in our hearts that connects us with our land, our languages, our cultures and our sense of belonging to this ancient land of ours.

In its negative form it sometimes divides us, but there a moments of brilliance where it raises our consciousness to a higher level of awareness about what makes us one people under one flag and constitution.

I find such positive energy in Michael’s poem One day, in this place, we will have good things.

Sometimes those good things are hidden in the rugged landscape or the battle-worn faces of many a suffering Papua New Guinean.

But there are surprisingly good things about being from this increasingly predictable land of the unexpected. And you will find them articulated in this volume in A soliloquy of soil and In ‘Rainy Lae’ anything can grow.

One of the most refreshing sights for me is how many of today’s young Papua New Guineans express themselves through poetry.

In high school, I got the shock of my life when this rough timber kaksy-type girl fronted the school assembly and read some of the most beautiful Papua New Guinean love poems I have ever heard.

During a recent trip to Alotau, I attended an open-microphone event where a shy young man, probably a few years younger than I am, read his poem talking about corruption and revolution.

Poetry is the spoken word and as such, if you do not know what to say, Michael gives you a reference point to start from. In O Arise! you can find the right words to say when talking to a pig farmer at the foot of Mount Giluwe or to a street vendor as in A candlelight market in Port Moresby.

In this collection of the spoken word I have found many colourful voices from Papua New Guinea. These works by Michael Dom represent a superb distillation of common Papua New Guinean concepts about the world we live in.

They give a meaningful and a soulful voice to what would otherwise be a hollow shell of a nation and its people.

Mi wanbel stret wantaim tok pisin blong Michael! I hope you do too. PNG yumi go samespeed!

Phil Fitzpatrick writes….

It’s very difficult for a writer or poet not to be political in a developing nation. In this they are following a long tradition. In more regressive regimes they are mercilessly suppressed. In PNG this is fortunately not the case. At its worst the government has only inadvertently hindered such discourse by failing to provide suitable avenues for its expression.

The political class are doing themselves a disservice, not least because the writers and poets are finding their own platforms, most notably on social media. If the politicians prefer not to listen, the ordinary people will.

A poem is a powerful weapon, especially in the hands of a master like Michael Dom. One day the politicians will rue their deafness.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin writes….

Michael Dom has poetry all over him and is surely the most talented of Papua New Guinean poets. Though his array of poetry is diverse, his work on PNG politics is filled with the best piercing and most blistering political poetry ever.

His poems can drive a plebeian to madness, a bureaucrat searching for civic virtue and a politician hanging his or her head in shame for self-serving. The artistically worded prose makes us stand in awe and admiration and is definitely a work of a gifted mind.

I assure you that you will experience the anguish and mischief of PNG politics in your mind’s eye and equally a hope for a brighter future in this work. 


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Marlene Potoura

Well done, my friend. You are truly made of words, all kinds of the 'right' vocabulary, for the right kinds of poems.

Phil Fitzpatrick

That's already happening Daniel - the "quoting of Dom".

You should get a copy of Sil Bolkin's "The Flight of Galkope" to see what is possible with PNG history.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Michael, Too bad our history was never recorded. Some of our ancestors/ tribal founders must have made enduring statements which would be famous.

Now, we have the chance and the means to express ourselves on paper. Everything we write is a draft copy of our history.

Perhaps somebody, somewhere, someday will quote a verse from Michael Dom's poetry. Keep on writing.

Michael Dom

An interesting similarity you draw there, Daniel.

The difference between poems and songs is the monetary value that society places on the latter - there's an entire industry built around music and song for everyone involved to milk the cash cow.

Milking pigs, on the other hand, is less profitable (at least at the udder end) and that might explain the lack of profit making from my poetry enterprise.

Here's what Horace says:

"Though without beauty, substance or art, amuses / The public more, and holds their attention better, / Than verses without content, melodious nonsense."

Although a great song may last decades, I don't see folks making much money singing ancient Greek tunes but Horace (19 BC) words still ring true:

"‘Then, tell me

Albinus’ son, if I take an ounce from five-twelfths

Of a pound, what fraction’s left? You should know by now.’

‘A third.’ ‘Good! You’ll look after your wealth.’ Add an ounce,

What then?’ ‘A half.’ When this care for money, this rust

Has stained the spirit, how can we hope to make poems

Fit to be wiped with cedar-oil, stored in polished cypress?"

And regarding what to write about Horace has this to say:

"Wisdom’s the source and fount of excellent writing.

The works of the Socratics provide you with content,

And when content’s available words will quickly follow.

Whoever knows what he owes his country and friends,

What love is due to a parent, brother, or guest,

What’s required of a senator or a judge in office,

What’s the role of a general in war, he’ll certainly

Know how to represent each character fittingly.

I’d advise one taught by imitation to take life,

And real behaviour, for his examples, and extract

Living speech."

I'm not providing the link so Google Horace yourself if you're interested, doing so might be enlightening.

For political poetry I owe PNG the truth about what I see, understand and feel is happening to us.

This is my task as a poet.

If it does not please the reader sore tumas wantok em i wari bilong yu tasol (said with Tolai accent, lol).

It is very obvious that there is a difference between criticism and disagreement because of differing political affiliations.

The disagreement demonstrates that although I have missed grabbing the cows udder, I have certainly hit the bullseye.

"Meat's back on the menu boys!"

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Michael, Corney - Imagine the third runner-up getting K5 and first got K50 for singing other people's compositions in Vocal Fusion. Song writers to me are poets and, yes Michael, we write to satisfy our egos don't we?

Michael Dom

It's good that it's free then isn't it Corney, because I'd surely never make any money from this chapbook.

"De do do do, de da da da"

Corney Korokan Alone

Great effort Michael,
Downloaded it and had a read.

The pervasive and unrelenting gripe, however, as if to say there's a mythical problem-free world out there is a turn off.

Michael Dom

This is Sparta.

Francis Nii

Maturity thought me well not to shoot the archer if I can't match the archery. Very sadly only immaturity does and very bad indeed.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Thank you Michael. That is very generous of you!

Michael Dom

Thank you Robin, it really is one of the best rewards to have my peers moved, even to discomfort, by the stuff I've written.

Hi, Francis, I have addressed the Speaker in this book too - a hard copy will cost him only K14.54.

But in a quiet protest I have made the PDF book free of charge.

Francis Nii

Hello Martyn, how did you go with your reimbursement claim for the expenses incurred in the acquisition of the King James Version bible?

Been waiting to hear from you regarding Australia's plan for establishing diplomatic mission on Bougainville but it seems you have been too busy with Theo Zurenuoc? It's OK.

Michael Dom

An early happy birthday PNG.

The process of aging is maturity or decay. Which way wantoks?

Free download of Michael's latest collection of poetry here -

Robin Lillicrapp

Well done, Michael. Your writings are an encouragement to your peers.

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