EARLY next month Jimmy Drekore will leave Simbu’s misty mountains and jet down to Queensland to attend the annual Brisbane Writers Festival. Bob Cleland and I arranged the trip, which turns out to be very timely indeed.
In addition to meeting BWF organisers to determine whether linkages can be established between writers in the Land of the Unexpected and the Sunshine State, Jimmy will be sitting down with Bob, Phil Fitzpatrick and me to discuss the future of the Crocodile Prize and the extension of the successful Simbu Writers Association model to other parts of Papua New Guinea.
As regular readers of PNG Attitude will know, Phil and I have decided to take a step back from organising the Prize and its many related activities in a determined effort to get a PNG takeover going.
Having taken five years to establish a literary template that is seen to work effectively in PNG, and with it a good funding base, it is time to pass on total control of the administration to Papua New Guineans.
Phil and I and other supporters like Bob Cleland, Ben Jackson and Ed Brumby are still willing to play a role, but it must be subordinate to leadership coming from within PNG.
The Crocodile Prize is very much a year-round project. Immediately the awards event is concluded in mid-September, planning commences for a launch of activity in October – when a new committee is appointed, book distribution is at full speed, sponsors are approached, the website revamped and the venue for the following year’s awards event chosen.
The Crocodile Prize never sleeps.
Baka Bina in the article published above cleverly referred to the resurgence of writing in PNG as “The Crocodile Pride”.
And I think there’s a lot of pride at stake in maintaining the Prize and this will be best done through the proliferation of active writers’ organisations across PNG.
The support of the Australian end of the Crocodile Prize will be crucial, and collaboration with the Brisbane writers would be nice, but it’s the Papua New Guineans who have to do it.
And now on with our monthly review of the most commented upon and most favoured writing in PNG Attitude during July.
MOST COMMENTED UPON IN JULY
25 comments - Nancy Sullivan, friend of Papua New Guinea, dies in US car smash (Keith Jackson). When the noted anthropologist Dr Nancy Sullivan, 57, died in a car crash in the United States, people throughout PNG and beyond reacted with an outpouring of grief and disbelief. Nancy Sullivan ran a Madang-based anthropology consulting company and had lived in PNG for 23 years. Her network of friends and her impact on people spoke volumes for her character and personality.
17 comments - The Crocodile Prize: It’s time to be brutally frank (Phil Fitzpatrick). When Phil returned to PNG in the late 1990s more than 20 years after leaving, he was amazed and disheartened by the state of the country. “It was only the friendliness of the poor people out in the bush who softened the impact,” he said. “The educated elite didn’t seem to care. They were too busy making money and robbing the country.” Now he gloomily wonders whether a national literature can survive. “Will that malaise, or whatever it was, that saw PNG go backwards in the years after independence see the demise of the Crocodile Prize? There are so many good writers with an equally appreciative audience of readers. Can they engage the institutional support within PNG that will sustain the project?”
14 comments - Did your entry make this year’s Crocodile Prize anthology? (Keith Jackson). Of more than 800 entries in this year’s Crocodile Prize, 160 were selected by the editors for publication in The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2015, which is now available from Amazon. As the result of a generous donation from the PNG Association of Australia, more than 1,000 copies of the anthology will be distributed free of cost to PNG libraries and schools. The anthology includes 52 poems, 42 short stories, 28 essays and 15 heritage stories. There are also 12 stories for children, seven entries in the Tourism, Arts & Culture category and four illustrations.
13 comments - The PNG-Australia relationship: threat to one; threat to the other (Francis Hualupmomi). Forget the historical connection, Francis believes the Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship will remain vibrant and strong because the two countries need each other. He forecasts that, despite PNG’s ‘Look North’ policy, Australia will continue to play an important role in PNG’s development.
11 comments - Thus ends another year of the Crocodile Prize literary contest (Phil Fitzpatrick). In a more cheerful mood here, Phil took time out to celebrate the end of the 2015 Crocodile Prize. “It’s not every day that you get to influence the revival of literature in a whole country, unintentionally or otherwise,” he wrote. “What started as a humble writing competition seems to have bloomed beyond all expectations.There is a sense of pride in what has happened but, strangely, it’s not personal. Rather it is a sense of pride in the achievements of the writers involved. At a personal level it has been more of a humbling experience. There is also a sense of awe and enrichment.”
11 comments - A duet to paradise (Jimmy Drekore & Marie-Rose Sau). Jimmy and Marie-Rose joined forces to compose a poem that really appealed to readers. “If you can see paradise from the ugly terrain / Mt Wilhelm is smiling at you, my dear / I always have seen paradise through the ugliest terrain / Even through the eyes of my dreams...”
10 comments - Sorry, neither god, glory nor gold had anything to do with it (Phil Fitzpatrick). In his third high scoring piece of the month, Phil took a glance back at why he and others chose to come to PNG as part of the colonial workforce. “When I first went to PNG in the 1960s as a young kiap there was absolutely nothing noble about my motivations or intentions,” he wrote. “I was not enthused by any youthful zeal to help a developing country and its people. At that age I didn’t have an altruistic bone in my body. That only came later as a sort of retrospective and ultimately facile justification for my presence there. Rather, my reasons were a combination of a testosterone-charged urge for ‘adventure’, whatever that meant, and the debilitating experience of having spent the first 18 months of my working life stuck in an excruciatingly boring job at the National Bank.”
10 comments - O’Neill calls for review of Torres Strait border arrangements (Office of the Prime Minister). PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill announced an eminent persons review of Torres Strait border arrangements saying he wanted to restore the traditional rights, lost at independence, of Trans Fly villagers. Readers were sceptical, thinking the move may have had more to do with mineral riches beneath the Torres Strait.
9 comments - A blind Yuri man beats the odds in the world of business (Joe Kuman). Sine Kape, a 50 year old blind Yuri man, who lost his sight in a tribal fight, worked with his wife Betty to build a very successful wholesale and retail businessat Miunde on the border of Jiwaka and Simbu provinces. They were guided by their strong faith in Christ and encouragement from his nuclear family and the Evangelical Brotherhood Church leaders.
9 comments - XV Pacific Games 2015 (Bessielah David). A poem celebrating the Pacific Games found favour with readers: “If I may see the paradise banner / Every fleeting moment counts / If I am bold and proud enough / The golden lace will survive the years.”
MOST LIKED IN JULY
458 likes - Ok Tedi copper mine closes leaving a shocked Western Province (Keith Jackson)
282 likes - Nancy Sullivan, friend of Papua New Guinea, dies in US car smash (Keith Jackson)
68 likes - PNG stuns Ireland in World Twenty20 cricket qualifier (Peter Della Penna)
47 likes - Port Moresby 2015 delivers opening ceremony fit for a prince (Liam Morgan)
46 likes - The limits of aid: Is foreign investment better for the Pacific? (Tiru K Jayaraman)
44 likes - Unexpected loss. Sir Michael Somare’s defeat at the United Nations (Daniel Kumbon)
38 likes - PNG Attitude’s most commented & liked pieces in June (Keith Jackson)
34 likes - The PNG-Australia relationship: threat to one; threat to the other (Francis Hualupmomi)
24 likes - Australian volunteers helped broadcast Games to the world (Australian High Commission)
24 likes - The West Papuan struggle (Desmond Aigilo)