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New fellowship scheme will strengthen PNG’s literary revival


PAPUA New Guinea will benefit from a privately-funded initiative by PNG Attitude to develop writers associations throughout the country.

A program of annual fellowships has been started to provide the basic management skills required to establish and maintain writers associations at a provincial level.

The McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowship has been funded by separate gifts from PNG’s pre-independence director of education, Prof Ken McKinnon AO (pictured), and the Paga Hill Development Company.

The first three McKinnon-Paga Hill fellows have been identified and accepted their awards.

They are established authors Daniel Kumbon and Leonard Fong Roka, who have received full fellowships, and Francis Nii, who has received a part fellowship.

“This is great news. I formed an interim committee a couple of days ago and this encourages me more,” said Daniel Kumbon from Wabag. “I will devote my time to move literary development in Enga.”

Speaking from Kundiawa, administrator of the pioneering Simbu Writers Association Francis Nii said “what a joy for me this moment. I am so happy.”

And at Panguna in Bougainville Leonard Roka told me: “I should have been the first to champion a writers association for Bougainville but the loss of my daughter was a setback for me and my dreams, and still I am slowly accepting it.”

Stanley Liria, director of Paga Hill Development Company, said “it’s an incredible opportunity to strengthen skills and learn from organisations in PNG and abroad.

“As an author myself, I’m very pleased that Paga Hill Development Company can support this wonderful initiative.”

“We’re pleased to support yet another amazing opportunity in enabling PNG writers to strengthen their capacity and develop managerial skills in order to establish and maintain provincial writers associations,” said Gudmundur ‘Gummi’ Fridriksson, CEO of the Paga Hill Development Company.

The three fellows will travel to Australia in early September to participate in an organisation-building workshop, which I will lead, and then attend the Brisbane Writers Festival which is seeking to establish a special link with writers in Papua New Guinea.

Daniel Kumbon and Leonard Roka will then visit Sydney for meetings with writers’ organisations, literary media and academics, and friends of Papua New Guinea.

Francis Nii has been a driving force behind, the Simbu Writers Association, which is a model for the establishment of similar associations in PNG. He will travel to Australia to assist me facilitate the workshop and also attend the Brisbane Writers Festival.

Francis is an accomplished author and he is looking forward to launching a new collection of his poetry while in Australia.

Daniel Kumbon has begun to revive the long dormant Enga Writers Association. His second book, I can see my country clearly now, has just been published and he hopes he can join Francis in launching this in Australia.

Leonard Roka is the author of five books including Brokenville, which was the first Crocodile Prize Book of the Year. His family experienced great tragedy during the Bougainville civil war and, just last year, he and his wife lost their two-year old daughter. It is expected that Leonard will establish a Bougainville Writers Association.

When the study tour is complete, both Daniel and Leonard will be mentored as they go about the task of establishing and building writing organisations in their home provinces.

It is intended to provide fellowships for two or three people each year as PNG Attitude pursues a goal of building a sustainable literary culture in Papua New Guinea.

Readers who wish to support this project can do so by transferring funds to the following bank account:

Keith Jackson (PNG Attitude)

NAB North Sydney

BSB 082 401

A/c number 39 286 5774


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David Gonol

Wow, this is great news. Thanks to Prof Ken McKinnon & Paga Hill Development Company. And congratulations to the three gentlemen and writers.

Daniel Kumbon

Thank you Professor Ken McKinnon, Paga Hill Development Limited and PNG Attitude for the surprise gift to offer me this fellowship.

Writing has been my hobby and dreamt one day to publish a book and I have done that with help from PNG Attitude blog and Pukpuk Publishing. I appreciate the unwavering support and encouragement of Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick.

I hope to help people here in Enga get their work published through Creatspace which is far cheaper than friends who have published their work with off-shore publishing houses.

I am grateful that I met Keith and Phil who have introduced me to Creatspace. I believe I will get four books of two my committee members (of the newly formed Enga Writers Association) published through Createspace.

I am glad, I formed an interim committee and re-established the Enga Writers Association before I received the surprise email from Keith informing me of the fellowship. I know now what honest hard work means when it pays off when you least expect it.

I believe PNG writers need exposure. And I applaud Professor Ken McKinnon, Paga Hill Development Limited and PNG Attitude for introducing this private new fellowship.

I am sure many more PNG writers will benefit from it and be exposed internationally in the coming years as they make their way down under.

I believe the Brisbane Writers Festival is where PNG writers can get that exposure and mix with writers, publishers, critics, authors, agents, journalists etc.

And the PNG Crocodile Prize Organisation must revolve around PNG. It is where like-minded people can meet. The meet in Kundiawa last September was great. Many of us look forward to go to Madang this year.

My aim now is to get Engans, particularly students to write poems, essays, short stories etc which can be compiled into Anthologies like Simbu schools have done. And I will try and bring the Crocodile Prize Organisation to Enga in the not too distant future.

Francis Nii

A nation without literature is a people with lost identity. Literature is important in the development and history of a nation.

The way forward for the revival and long term sustainable development of literature in Papua New Guinea is through establishment of provincial writer’s association and Keith and Phil are right in refocusing their attention in this direction.

Maybe sometime in the future when the milieus are conducive, then the individual groups can come together and form a national representative body.

I am very grateful for the McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowship and the sponsors, Prof Ken McKinnon and Paga Hill Development Company, for supporting the cause of literature in PNG.

They have taken a noble step in promoting literature in this country when it really should have been the government of PNG through the department of culture and tourism or department of education doing it.

As a privileged member of the pioneer recipients of the fellowship award, I am very thankful of Prof McKinnon and Paga Hill Development Company. Thank you so much.

I am also grateful of the man who worked so hard behind the scene to secure the sponsorship for the fellowship. He is none other than one of the two diehard promoters of PNG literature, Keith Jackson. Thank you so much, Keith.

Of course the other diehard promoter of PNG literature is Philip Fitzpatrick.

I owe the recognition and the fellowship award to my intelligent, hard working and result oriented team mates Jimmy Drekore, Mathias Kin, Jimmy Awagl, Arnold Mundua and Roslyn Tony of Simbu Writers Association who are also my wings and legs.

Any one of them could have been awarded the fellowship but I happened to be the lucky one. Credit goes to all of them.

I will try my best to learn as much as possible during the fellowship and return with a wealth of knowledge that will enable me to enhance the work that SWA has been doing in Simbu.

Robin Lillicrapp

Icing on the cake of PNG Attitude's baking of literary development in PNG. Congratulations to the worthy recipients.

Simon Davidson

This is a very excellent initiative that will fuel literary culture in Papua New Guinea. Thanks Keith for PNG Attitude and thanks for the McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowship.You have done something for the nation that we will be eternally gratefully for.

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