Includes the complete list of all 33 Pukpuk titles
PUKPUK Publications was one of the unforeseen spin-offs of the Crocodile Prize.
In 2011 and 2012, in line with our desire to make the competition a Papua New Guinean affair, we organised a local publisher in Port Moresby to print the Crocodile Prize Anthology.
This turned out to be extremely expensive and the end product, especially the 2011 anthology, turned out to be below par. On top of that, and on both occasions, the publisher only just managed to get copies delivered in time for the awards night.
Clearly, the expense, uncertainty of delivery and lack of control over the quality of the end product was not sustainable, especially given that we had limited funds and absolutely no help from the Papua New Guinean government.
Around that time I had begun experimenting with Amazon’s relatively new self-publishing program called Createspace. I used it to publish the first Inspector Metau book.
Added to that was the fact that we could get books printed only as required rather than being lumbered with cartons of the things that would require storage. On top of that it would be available as long as we kept it on our Createspace account.
As I refined my skills using Createspace, not an easy thing given my general computer ineptitude, I started thinking about the possibility of producing Papua New Guinean books other than the anthology.
The logic there was that I would work with Papua New Guinean writers who would pick up editing skills and familiarity with Createspace so that they could strike out on their own. I figured that if I could do it there was nothing stopping anyone in Papua New Guinea doing it.
One of the first projects was a re-publishing of Francis Nii’s novel, Paradise in Peril.
That was a learning experience for both of us. We re-edited the text to bring it up to date and designed a new cover. The end product wasn’t totally to our satisfaction but it ensured that a worthwhile publication could assume a new life.
As the titles began to grow I had a few enquiries from Australian expatriates who had written memoirs that they couldn’t find an Australian publisher for or couldn’t afford to publish themselves.
One of the first of these was Chips Mackellar’s Sivarai. Chips is a master story teller and very particular about his work and we parried for quite a while before we had a product that satisfied us both.
Another Australian memoir was Graham Taylor’s, A Kiap’s Story. This was a complex book with lots of photographs, maps, diagrams and artwork. By the time we had finished I was ready to murder Graham but it was, nonetheless, a very useful learning experience.
Somewhere along the way I also produced a couple of books by Leonard Fong Roka. Leonard was pretty easy going about the editing but it was a tightrope negotiating his complex and compelling writing style to produce books acceptable to a wider general audience.
Of those books his Brokenville was the most interesting and disturbing I had ever tackled. It wasn’t long or technically complex but the subject material was particularly raw. As is his wont Captain Bougainville didn’t hold back on the details.
As we progressed Francis Nii had been refining his editing skills and had come up with the idea of publishing an anthology of work by students at Ku High School in Simbu. This year we did another high school anthology.
They weren’t complex works but they were revealing of the latent writing talent that seems to lurk in Simbu Province. I’m guessing that the same could probably be said of other provinces but without encouragement by organisations such as the Simbu Writers Association might lie dormant.
This year I had the pleasure of publishing another new writer, Emmanuel Peni. Manu’s novel Sibona is a stunning piece of work and reminded me very much of Baka Bina’s Man of Calibre. Manu wasn’t a compliant writer and politely and determinedly exacted his own ideas about the final product. That in itself was reassuring and augurs well for the future.
Both books mentioned above, along with Francis Nii’s reworked Fitman, Raitman and Cooks: Paradise in Peril are of extremely high quality and I would guess in time will become Papua New Guinean classics.
I’ve got two more books in the pipeline. One is an entertaining collection of essays and memoirs by the veteran Engan journalist Daniel Kumbon. The other is a fascinating memoir by Norma Griffin about life as a kiap’s wife at Saidor in the late 1940s.
Also on the near horizon is the 2016 edition of the Crocodile Prize Anthology. I’ll be coordinating it with Baka Bina but hopefully it will be produced by him on his own or an alternative Createspace account.
With the demise of PNG Attitude in February and the hopeful assumption of the Crocodile Prize by people in Papua New Guinea the need for it will end.
There are now quite a few people in Papua New Guinea who have mastered Createspace and similar programs and hopefully they will take up the baton.
Any hope of assistance by the Papua New Guinean government is still pretty forlorn and hopeless.
It has been fun, albeit hard work, but like Keith I am running out of steam.
33 titles - Pukpuk Publications remarkable publishing history, 2011-16
A Bush Poet's Poetical Blossom – Jimmy Drekore
A Kiap's Story – Graham Taylor
Bougainville Manifesto – Leonard Fong Roka
Brokenville – Leonard Fong Roka
Daddy Two Shoes – Diddie Kunaman Jackson
Dee's Longs & Shorts – Marlene Dee Gray Potoura
Drugs and Their Dangers in Papua New Guinea – Philip Kai Morre
Fitman, Raitman & Cooks: Paradise in Peril – Francis Nii
I Can See My Country Clearly Now – Daniel Kumbon
In Search of Heritage in the Midst of Change - Bomai Dick Witne
Inspector Metau: The Case of the Angry Councillor – Philip Fitzpatrick
Inspector Metau: The Case of the Missing Professor – Philip Fitzpatrick
Ku High School Anthology 2014 – Francis Nii
Lost in His Land – Winterford Toreas
Moments in Bougainville – Leonard Fong Roka
My Journey – Jimmy Awagl
My Struggle – Jimmy Awagl
Reading Comprehension Texts – Francis Nii
Remember Me and Other Stories From Enga Province – Daniel Kumbon
Saidor Story – Norma Griffin
Sibona – Emmanuel Peni
Simbu High & Secondary School Anthology 2015 – Francis Nii
Sivarai – Chips Mackellar
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2013
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014
The Crocodile Prize Anthology – 2015
The Crocodile Prize Anthology – 2016
The Floating Island – Philip Fitzpatrick
The Pomong U'tau of Dreams – Leonard Fong Roka
The Resonance of My Thoughts – Francis Nii
When the River Destroys – Samantha Kusari